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PRO Act will strip employees of privacy rights, possibly their Job

In this file photo, a flag flies at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. Congress has a measure to protect businesses from COVID-19 lawsuits, but has yet to act on it, and Gov. Doug Ducey is content to wait on the federal measure rather than call the state Legislature into special session to pass liability legislation. PHOTO COURTESY ARCHITECT OF THE CAPITOL

In this file photo, a flag flies at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. PHOTO COURTESY ARCHITECT OF THE CAPITOL

The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which was recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, strives to strengthen union leverage and labor density. However, it does so at the expense of Arizona’s businesses, workers and economy. If signed into law, the PRO Act would harm Arizona’s economy, limit opportunities for individuals to work independently through independent contractor roles or through gig economy platforms, eliminate workers’ free choice in union elections and infringe on individuals’ privacy rights. It would implement harmful policies that have previously been rejected by Democratic and Republican members of Congress, the judicial system and federal agencies. 

The PRO Act would violate the privacy rights of employees by requiring that employers share employee contact information with union organizers without prior consent. Workers would have no say in what information was shared and would not be allowed to opt out of this requirement. The PRO Act could also limit a workers right to choose or not choose union representation through secret ballot elections and instead require that the employee vote in front of union organizers and colleagues. Workers could then face intimidation and harassment from labor organizers, who could bully them on social media or even show up at their residence. 

 For more than a year, Covid has had a staggering impact on the state of Arizona. Additionally, Phoenix saw a decline of more than 57,000 total jobs over the year. Early on in the pandemic, approximately 420,000 Arizona residents lost their jobs due to Covid. And according to the Arizona Center for Economic Progress, more than 2 million households in the Grand Canyon State have had one or more member lose employment since the onset of Covid. 

Additionally, approximately one-in-three households are unable to afford their typical expenses and one-in-six are behind on paying their rent. The numbers are alarming, and further underscore Arizona’s need for policy solutions that help, rather than hurt the state’s economy. 

The PRO Act would cause greater harm to Arizona’s economy during this time of great economic turmoil – forcing businesses to close permanently and threatening the livelihood of struggling households in Arizona. As a resident of Arizona, I’m concerned that the bill would add even more financial stress to an economy that has faced significant repercussions since the onset of the pandemic. 

Today, many individuals in Arizona and across the nation choose to hold individual contractor roles, or to hold roles within gig economy platforms. This is often due to the flexible nature of the job, as traditional independent contractor and gig economy roles allow workers to choose their own hours, as well as the work that they do. The legislation, however, would implement California’s “ABC Test” standard, reclassifying many of these independent contractors as employees. If reclassified as an employee, the individual could then lose the freedoms associated with working independently. And the economic effects could be devastating. A study found that a nationwide ABC Test standard could threaten an estimated 8.5of U.S. gross domestic product. 

The PRO Act would also allow unions to target businesses for anti-competitive reasons other than union organizing. This would give labor bosses the power to go after corporations and inflict economic distress. 

As we look to recover from the Covid pandemic, we need solutions that will revive and rebuild the U.S. economy. The PRO Act is not the solution. It will implement drastic changes to well-established law, eliminate employees’ rights to privacy and force businesses to permanently shutter. As the U.S. Senate debates the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, we call on Arizona’s U.S. Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema to oppose this harmful legislation. 

 Doug. W. York is president and CEO of Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply. 

 

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