Virginia recently clinched the No. 1 spot as the best state to do business in the United States. But our economic-leader status could very well be stripped very soon if Congress has anything to do about it and the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act is enacted into law.
Right now, the pro-labor PRO Act is getting tossed around in Washington. It purports to be pro-worker, but it’s the exact opposite. It’s a piece of legislation that would make us all worse off.
First, the PRO Act would repeal our state’s long standing right-to-work law. Adopted in 1947, that law makes union membership a choice and not conditional on employment. Moreover, the measure enjoys broad bipartisan support and has contributed to Virginia’s prosperous, durable business climate.
States with right-to-work laws, including ours, boast “increased self-reported current life satisfaction, expected future life satisfaction, and sentiments about current and future economic activity among workers.” These sentiments were similarly observed in unionized workers, as well.
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership, a state agency tasked with promoting and attracting business here, warned that repealing right-to-work would adversely impact 260 potential manufacturing and supply-chain projects, jeopardizing 33,000 new jobs and $16.7 billion in capital investment. Their assessment also revealed the state would lose “approximately $8 million-$26 million in state general fund revenue per year.” Kiss the No. 1 spot for business goodbye if this becomes reality.
Second, the bill would incorporate an ABC test into the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by reclassifying independent contractors as employees. As we’ve seen with California Assembly Bill 5, the test would be applied to millions of flexible workers, including Virginians, and displace them from the workforce.
If nationally implemented, the ABC test would “implicate over 13 million workers who produce over $1.6 trillion in economic output, about 8.5% of gross domestic product.” This would have ruinous effects on Virginia workers enjoying flexibility and financial success they’ve found in contract work.
Third, worker privacy would undoubtedly be violated. The bill, if enacted, would mandate employers collect and share private employee information with union organizers without first alerting workers. Workers would have no input on this and can’t opt-out.
Many fear this will lead to worker intimidation and harassment by powerful union organizers simply because employees will refuse to comply. Talk about rendering workers powerless.
This proposal is also extremely unpopular. A recent poll revealed 75% of voters, including 68% of Democrats and 65% of independents, are concerned about employers handing over their personal information to union organizers.
The Institute for the American Worker notes 3.1 million Virginia workers could be forcibly unionized should the PRO Act be adopted by forcing them to surrender $300 to $1,100 of their paycheck annually to unions by coercive means.
Union organizers are in denial about their waning influence in the U.S. economy. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unionized jobs account for 10.8% of the current U.S. workforce. In Virginia alone, only 4.4% of the employed workforce holds union membership.
In contrast, the freelancer economy overall is booming and expected to grow with 36% of the workforce — or 59 million workers — engaging in some form of flexible work.
As a full-time Virginia freelancer, I don’t need a union to negotiate on my behalf nor place a cap on my earning potential. And I’m not alone in this. There are plenty of us who are unwilling, either to forfeit a portion of our earnings to unions or to be coerced into joining one.
In sum, we don’t need liberation from the flexibility we enjoy as independent contractors.