The PRO Act, more formally known as the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, passed the United States House of Representatives in March. This legislation has been the talk of political junkies and those involved in advocacy for the construction industry on all sides for some time; but it has moved to the forefront since the Biden Administration took office. If you don’t know anything about this legislation, you should. This is not a political statement, as those who know me can probably guess where I stand on the legislation. Instead, the owners of construction companies, HR managers, and others in the construction industry should be aware of how much change the legislation might bring to the construction market if it is passed.
Without getting deep into the details, the PRO Act would fundamentally change the relationship between employers, employees, and unions. To start, it would eliminate right-to-work in the 27 states where it now exists. Such a chance would allow unions to collect dues from those who can currently opt-out from paying them at companies with collective bargaining. It would also move the process to organize a company closer to the “card check” approach that eliminates the secret ballot and allow for secondary boycotts (think unions showing up to protest a company with which it has no grievance or dispute to leverage the company with whom they actually disagree). Finally, it would expand concepts like the joint-employer doctrine by redefining who is an employee.
While the Biden Administration is a staunch supporter of organized labor and strongly supports this legislation, the current politics of the situation suggest that it will stall in the Senate. First and foremost, there does not seem to be enough support in the Senate to overcome a filibuster. That would take at least 60 senators to agree in order for it to even get a vote. The PRO Act was also previously blocked in the Senate before the last version expired and had to be re-introduced, suggesting that the Senate does not have the appetite for it beyond a filibuster. This being said, elements of the PRO Act will very likely find their way into other pieces of legislation or agency guidance given the Biden Administration’s support. So be on the lookout for these changes and prepared to adjust how your business operates.
ABOUT JOSH QUINTER
Josh Quinter is a commercial litigation attorney, with a focus on construction law, and an Associate Managing Principal. Mr. Quinter actively works with his clients in the areas of business planning, contract negotiation and project consulting, risk management and dispute resolution, and litigation. His client service and professionalism have earned him the distinction of being named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer, a Lawyer on the Fast Track, and a Rising Star.
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