Op-EdAppeared in The Express on August 19, 2023By Guy Berkebile

The PRO Act is wrong for Pennsylvania

Legislation that recently passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee is popular among Pennsylvania’s elected leaders. Both Sens. Bob Casey and John Fetterman are co-sponsoring the bill in the upper chamber and nearly a dozen state leaders in the House have signed on–including Republican Brian Fitzpatrick.

But support from these politicians doesn’t necessarily translate to good policy. In fact, in this case, the bill is far from it.

The legislation — deceptively named the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act–will empower labor unions at the expense of workers and the state’s entrepreneurs. As a Pennsylvania small business owner, I urge our elected leaders in Washington who have supported the legislation thus far to reconsider their position.

For one, the legislation would allow unions to sidestep secret ballot elections when attempting to organize a workplace. What’s the alternative that’s favored by the PRO Act? A method called “card check,” which opens the door to employee intimidation practices from union organizers and peer pressure. The tactics could taint the outcome of the election and override the true preferences of employees.

Imagine if Trump or Biden campaign workers stood next to people in the voting booths during the 2020 election. Is it difficult to imagine face-to-face pressure influencing how Americans voted? Voting integrity shouldn’t be limited to presidential elections.

Main Street and the autonomy of independent contractors would also be on the chopping block.

The PRO Act would curb these entrepreneurial opportunities by enshrining a broader definition of a labor regulation known as “joint employer.” As a result, franchise small businesses and the millions of people they employ would be put in jeopardy.

Some Pennsylvanians who work for themselves would also get caught in the crossfire. The legislation would reclassify millions of independent contractors as employees–a designation that would strip away the autonomy and flexibility of the smallest of small business owners. Everyone from Uber drivers to independent truckers to construction contractors would experience the repercussions.

As the founder and President of a chemical products manufacturer in Somerset that employs more than 100 people, I understand the value of treating team members with dignity and respect. In fact, following the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017, I reinvested the financial savings back into my employees–distributing bonuses and increasing wages.

Passing the PRO Act is not pro-worker; it’s pro-union boss. Provisions within the bill would do more harm than good for my staff and create a more toxic environment for companies in the process.

Fortunately, there’s an alternative to the PRO Act that lawmakers can get behind. The Employee Rights Act–also introduced this year–would empower workers and bolster the small business community. Among provisions, the bill would guarantee that any vote to form a union would be done via secret ballot election, protect the autonomy of self-employed Americans, and preserve the franchise small business model.

Pennsylvania’s elected leaders in Washington need to stand up for Keystone State small businesses and workers. Siding with union bosses to restrict employee freedom and entrepreneurship is a recipe for economic turmoil.