May 10, 2019
The House Education and Labor Committee this week held a hearing on an HR Policy-opposed sweeping rewrite of American labor laws, characterized by former NLRB Chairman Phil Miscimarra of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius as a measure that would have a “destabilizing impact on U.S. employees, employers, the general public, and unions.”
Among the significant components of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act (H.R. 2474/S. 1306):
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka spoke in favor of the bill, claiming that the current labor laws are “woefully outdated,” and allow “bad actors to do everything to undermine union organizing.” In contrast, Miscimarra stated that “enforcement of the National Labor Relations Act has been substantially more effective than other labor and employment laws.” Moreover, the legislation “does not adequately consider the competing interests of employees, employers, unions and the public, which have been carefully balanced by Congress for important reasons in the past 80-plus years.”
Be smart: Sponsored by Education and Labor Chair Bobby Scott (D-VA) with 79 cosponsors, the bill should have little problem passing the committee, but no chance of seeing action in the Senate, where it was sponsored by HELP Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) with 39 cosponsors. A more relevant question is whether it will have smooth sailing in the full House, where some moderate Democrats are starting to push back on a nationwide minimum wage increase and potentially other progressive measures. For comparison, during the Obama administration a relatively narrower “card check" bill passed the House, but was unable to get the requisite 60 votes in the Senate even when the Democrats had a 60-seat majority.