Originally Published in The Hill on 04/28/21 07:01 PM EDT
By: Tom Hebert
So far, unions have suffered defeat after defeat under the Biden presidency, a fitting chapter in the decades-long decline of “big labor,” the nation’s largest trade and labor unions. American workers just aren’t buying what big labor is selling.
The most recent humiliation was a crushing loss in Bessemer, Alabama, where 71 percent of Amazon warehouse workers voted against unionization. The final tally was a lopsided 1,798 votes against unionization to 738 for unionization.
Reasonable people look at that overwhelming result and conclude Amazon’s warehouse workers simply didn’t want to join the union and that their wishes should be respected. Democrats see the vote as an opportunity to force American workers to join a union whether they want to or not.
The Democratic Party’s lifeline to unions is the “Protecting the Right to Organize” (PRO) Act, the most sweeping rewrite of U.S. labor laws in decades. The PRO Act is so important to union bosses that they have threatened to withdraw all campaign cash from Democratic lawmakers that do not vote for the bill.
The left is attempting to use the Bessemer defeat to get the PRO Act over the finish line, which narrowly passed the House and is currently under Senate consideration. Left-leaning Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said that the vote was a “perfect example of why the PRO Act is so necessary.” AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler said she had “no doubt” the union would have prevailed if the PRO Act was law of the land.
The left is saying the quiet part out loud — if they can’t convince workers to unionize, they want to force workers to unionize. The PRO Act stacks the deck in favor of labor in several ways, mainly by nullifying right-to-work laws that protect 166 million Americans in 27 states, more than half the U.S. population. Right-to-work laws prohibit employers from forcing their employees to join a union as a condition of employment. In right-to-work states, individuals are completely free to join a union if they wish to do so, but are never forced to pay union dues just to get a job. Right-to-work states experience stronger growth in the number of people employed than in states run by union bosses.
According to the National Institute for Labor Relations Research, the percentage growth in the number of people employed between 2007-2017 was 8.8 percent in right-to-work states and 4.2 percent in forced-unionism states. Workers in right-to-work states also report greater life satisfaction than those in forced-unionism states, particularly among union workers.
If the left succeeds in repealing right-to-work laws across the country, American workers will be forced to choose between paying off a union boss or putting food on the table.
The PRO Act also rewrites the rules to make it vastly easier for unions to win elections. If a union loses a secret ballot election, the union can accuse the employer of interference. The employer then has to prove that it did not interfere in the election, making the employer guilty until proven innocent. If the employer fails to meet this inverted burden of proof, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) can overturn the result of an election and declare the work site unionized if the union can collect enough signature cards, also known as “card check.” Under card check, workers must declare their support or opposition for a union in front of union organizers as opposed to the privacy of a voting booth. Card check creates a clear opportunity for union organizers to bully workers into supporting unionization. Under the PRO Act, if a union fails a secret ballot election, organizers can always overturn the results through card check intimidation.
To make it worse, the PRO Act forces employers to hand over the personal contact information of their employees to union bosses ahead of an election. This sensitive data can include an employee’s shift hours, home address, home and cell phone numbers and personal email address. This stunning violation of worker privacy could open the floodgates for union organizers to harass workers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The union’s resounding defeat in Bessemer is just another example of organized labor’s collapse. Instead of championing worker freedom, the left is using the Bessemer defeat as an excuse to force American workers into unions whether they want to join them or not.