The House is preparing to vote next week on a controversial bill that seeks to bolster union powers across the country, but critics of the bill say it will eliminate worker rights for independent contractors.
“The PRO Act is about one thing, it’s about giving union officials more power over workers and more power over our economy,” Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Committee told Fox News Thursday, calling the bill a “radical smorgasbord of big labor desires.”
The Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) would expand union reach by altering how businesses define an employee -- essentially eliminating the independent contractor and affecting everyone from freelance journalists to Uber and truck drivers.
The bill incorporates measures that follow California's new independent contractor law and erodes Right-to-Work laws in 27 states.
Proponents of the bill say it would grant all workers a bargaining position for access to healthcare, improved benefits and pay increases.
Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., who initially introduced the bill in 2019, pointed to a 2019 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that found on average union members make 19 percent more than workers in the same field not represented by a union.
But Mix argued that there are already federal laws that give employees the power to unionize, adding that the PRO Act goes beyond granting powers and instead revokes individual freedoms.
“Nothing in federal law today stops any worker from joining a union or participating in a union, or giving their entire paycheck to a union if they want to,” Mix said. “But this bill, the PRO Act, eliminates Right-to-Work laws and it makes independent contractors -- freelancers and gig workers -- employees subject to unionization, is all about increasing union power, not worker power.”
One of the major problems critics have with the bill is the provision that would repeal Right-to-Work laws, which protect employees from being forced to pay union dues -- prompting critics to theorize that one motivation behind the bill is to help unions cash in.
Biden campaigned on bolstering unions, arguing that the middle class, which traditionally relied on union protections, built the U.S., not corporations.
The president delivered remarks virtually to Alabama Amazon workers over the weekend, encouraging them to consider what benefits unionizing could provide them.
"Let me be clear, it's not up to me to decide if anybody should join a union, but let me be even more clear, it's not up to an employer to decide that either,” Biden told Amazon employees Sunday.
In response to questions regarding the president's stance on a worker's right to choose unionization, the White House told Fox News that, "The President is a strong proponent of the PRO Act."
"He has been a longtime supporter and advocate for the role of unions and collective bargaining," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
But the National Right to Work Committee found the president's words "hypocritical" as the Democrat's latest bill seeks to “subject” independent contractors to unionization.
“Joe Biden is talking out of both sides of this mouth when he talks about getting workers more power and the ability to unionize,” Mix told Fox News.
The bill is expected to pass the House, but with a 50-50 split in the Senate, Democrats will need to convince every moderate Democrat and some Republicans that the measure will not negatively affect their constituents.