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The PRO Act is Anti-Worker

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

This coming Thursday, the United States Senate will consider the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act), a bill that has already cleared the House of Representatives on a party-line vote and has significant support from both the White House and theDepartment of Labor. While it’s advocates contend the bill will “dramatically enhance the power of workers,” the reality is that the bill is anti-worker and risks denying millions economic stability and prosperity.


To protect workers and consumers, Senate should consign the PRO act to the trash can.

Rather than advancing an agenda that protects workers and consumers, the PRO act would invalidate right-to-work laws and mandate independent contractors be reclassified as full-time employees.

Given the scope of the bill and the fact these are just some of the biggest issues in the bill, it is no surprise that the National Retail Foundation dubbed the PRO act “the worst bill in Congress.”

For workers and the wider economy, invalidating right-to-work laws could be profoundly damaging. In states that have passed right to work laws, 28 in total, workers cannot be compelled to join labor unions as a condition of employment or be compelled to pay union dues that average $400 per month.

Broadly speaking, right-to-work laws are incredibly popular, with 80 percent of Americans saying it is wrong to force workers to pay union dues.

A 2018 study by NERA economic consulting found that between 2001 and 2016 right to work states experienced a 26.7 percent increase in private sector employment while non-right-to-work states only saw a 15.4% increase. NERA estimates if non-right to work states adopted right-to-work legislation, “approximately 249,000 more people would have been employed.” These additional jobs ultimately mean all workers benefit from economic security and better economic opportunities.


Right-to-work legislation has resulted in higher wages for workers. This evidence directly counters union arguments that contend right to work laws depressed salaries. In his groundbreaking 2003 study, Walter Robert Reed of the University of Oklahoma- Norman found while was no uniform increase in wage increases across right-to-work states, workers in right-to-work states saw “significantly higher wages than” states without right to work protections. Prohibiting right-to-work laws, therefore, will not only jeopardize job creation but could also depress wages.

The economic impact of right-to-work legislation demonstrates they put the worker’s interests first, allowing them greater financial security through increased job availability and more spending power through higher wages. Passing the PRO Act would mean jeopardizing economic security right to work laws have provided millions of workers.

The PRO act would also enshrine California’s profoundly harmful AB 5 into federal law. In short, AB 5 required companies who used independent contractors to classify them as full-time workers. Unfortunately, advocates of restricting the use of independent contractors ignore its significant economic contributions and the popularity of this alternative employment structure.


A recent study Freelance Forward 2020, found that between September 2019 and September 2020 over 59 million Americans had participated in independent contract work and had generated $1.2 trillion in earnings. These earnings provide workers with additional disposable income, the ability to pay down debts or save for important life purchases.

The PRO Act also erroneously presumes independent contract labor is exploitative while ignoring the overall popularity of independent contract work. A 2017 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed an overwhelming majority, 79 percent, of independent contractors, preferred the arrangement compared to 48% of Americans who preferred traditional employment. Additionally, 58 percent of those engaged in traditional employment are considering pursuing independent contracting alongside their full-time job.

By passing the PRO act, the federal government will only deny workers the ability to participate in an employment structure they overwhelmingly approve of.

Despite these clear warnings, Democrats in Washington seem intent on passing the PRO act into law, even suggesting that it could be included in a budget reconciliation package that could not be filibustered by Republicans. Rather than insisting on passing this incredibly harmful bill into law, lawmakers should pause and think about the workers and consumers who will be unnecessarily harmed by this bill and how it could deny millions economic security and opportunity.


When considering the PRO act, lawmakers should take a leaf out of the medical principle of “first, do no harm” and consign the PRO act to the trash.

Edward Longe is a Policy Manager at the American Consumer Institute, a nonprofit educational and research organization

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