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Few issues rally Republicans more than a good old fashioned labor fight in Washington. The battle lines are well defined: it’s the boot strappers versus the collective bargainers.
Unfortunately a unified front alone may not be enough to stop a massive labor bill quietly gaining momentum in Congress – one that could make unions flush with cash and limit the freedoms of gig economy workers in states all across the country.
The GOP will need every ally it can find to defeat it. And that includes the largest and most outspoken voice representing America’s business community, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is flexing its muscle to stop the bill from becoming law.
Will the party – some have rebuked the U.S. Chamber for trying to find common ground with the Biden administration – embrace their help? They would be foolish not to welcome it with open arms and join forces in defense of free American enterprise.
The Protecting the Right to Organize Act, or PRO Act as it’s known, would allow unions to override right-to-work laws in 27 states that currently have them. That means unions could compel workers who don’t want to unionize to pay union dues to the very union organizations they don’t want to join.
For those who bet on themselves – those who seek to chart their own success in life to secure their piece of the American dream – forcing deductions from their paychecks to support organizations they ideologically oppose or risk termination is precisely unAmerican.
What’s more, the PRO Act could deny freelancers and independent contractors the ability to call their own shots, work on their own terms, and earn at their own pace. It would reclassify them as employees of the companies they work for, and threaten the freedoms and flexibility they currently enjoy. The PRO Act would effectively nationalize a dreadful California law which California voters rejected in a referendum.
When the PRO Act passed the House in March, liberal press outlets claimed it would “protect worker organizing efforts.” AFL-CIO’s president Richard Trumka agreed, saying it would“empower workers to exercise our freedom to organize a bargain. … It's a game changer. If you really want to correct inequality in this country — wages and wealth inequality, opportunity and inequality of power — passing the PRO Act is absolutely essential to doing that.”
When a union leader calls a proposed labor bill a “game changer” it should send shivers down the spine of every business owner in America. It’s no surprise that the AFL-CIO staged a “National Day of Action” to urge the Senate to pass the bill last week. The U.S. Chamber countered, holding its own event on the very same day highlighting the perils of the legislation. It has a website, Stop the PRO Act, calling attention to the bill’s dangerous provisions for American businesses.
U.S. Chamber CEO Suzanne Clark didn’t mince words: “A bill cannot be ‘pro-worker’ if it harms employees, threatens job creation, and undermines our economic recovery. … The PRO Act would threaten worker privacy, force employees to pay union dues or lose their jobs, and trample free speech rights. The Chamber will fight to ensure this wish list of union-sponsored priorities fails in the Senate and never becomes law.”
The Chamber and the GOP are squarely aligned on the PRO Act, as they are on other legislation that could negatively impact the business community. So it’s puzzling to see certain Republicans in Congress criticize the U.S. Chamber simply because the group has signaled a willingness to find political agreement with Democrats on select issues.
Who cares? Get over it. Republicans need to focus on what’s important and work with its allies to challenge bills that could hurt job growth and U.S. competitiveness. Attacking one of the GOP’s biggest partners in the fight to protect American businesses out of spite for the U.S. Chamber’s decision to no longer be an enforcer on every Republican issue across the board gets us nowhere.
At a time when the GOP is struggling to find its own future identity, we must to stand with those who can help the party defeat common threats to American economic prosperity.
Christian Josi is a former Executive Director of The American Conservative Union and CPAC. He currently serves as Founder and Managing Partner of C. Josi & Company., an international communications consultancy. He writes frequently for a variety of publications.
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