Democrats in Congress and in Virginia are pursuing legislation they say protects the right of workers to organize but critics say it’s nothing more than an effort to compel union membership for workers whether they want to belong or not.
This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, also known as the PRO Act. Supporters claim it paves the way for employees to organize if they wish and protects them from retribution from employers. Critics contend it forces workers to pay union dues even if they don’t want anything to do with a labor union.
Opponents also warn that the legislation would force independent contractors to be classified as employees, a designation that has led to major upheaval in the gig economy in California after similar legislation was enacted last year.
In addition to the debate in Congress, which will likely go nowhere in the U.S. Senate, the new Democratic majorities in Virginia are also taking aim at right to work laws with competing bills in the House of Delegates and the State Senate.
Further complicating the Democrats’ efforts are statistics from Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam. According to his projections, repealing right to work laws in Virginia would cost the commonwealth $11 billion and 37,000 jobs.
With both sides of the debate claiming to be on the side of workers, what does the evidence show? What protections already exist for workers wishing to organize and what would the bills in Washington and in Virginia actually accomplish?
We get answers to those questions with National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix.