Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Report: PRO Act Would Leave Workers with Less Money, Power

Proponents of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act have long argued that the legislation would be a win for workers. However, a new study revealed that workers would actually take a pay cut if this bill becomes law — all while labor unions cash in.

The study, which was conducted by the Institute for the American Worker, found unions do not provide enough of a wage increase to offset the $500 to $1,000 per year workers would be obligated to pay in union dues under the PRO Act.

Currently, 27 states have Right-to-Work laws that protect workers from being forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment. This is good news for workers who don’t want unions taking part of their hard-earned paychecks to fund political activities that workers themselves may disagree with. But if the PRO Act becomes law, it will abolish these Right-to-Work laws.

There are roughly 2.7 million employees in unionized workplaces in Right-to-Work states and one-sixth of those employees choose not to pay union dues. That means hundreds of thousands of individuals would once again be forced to pay dues to a union rather than collecting a full paycheck.

The passage of the PRO Act would also strip workers of a key negotiating tool. Without the option to walk away, workers will have almost no leverage over the union. The study revealed that workers in Right-to-Work states have reported higher satisfaction and wellbeing than workers in non-Right-to-Work states. Union leaders have even admitted that Right-to-Work laws have prompted unions to treat workers better.

Lee Saunders, the president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), said, “[W]e took things for granted. We stopped communicating with people, because we didn’t feel like we needed to.” Gary Casteel, the Secretary Treasurer of the United Auto Workers, made a similar admission: “This is something I’ve never understood, that people think right to work hurts unions,” Casteel said in 2014. “To me, it helps them. You don’t have to belong if you don’t want to. So if I go to an organizing drive, I can tell these workers, ‘If you don’t like this arrangement, you don’t have to belong.’ Versus, ‘If we get 50 percent of you, then all of you have to belong, whether you like to or not.’”

Abolishing Right-to-Work laws by passing the PRO Act will leave workers with less money in their paychecks and less say in how their workplace is run. It will, however, leave unions with more money in their coffers to spend on political donations and other frivolous spending. It’s easy to see why unions are demanding the passage of the PRO Act, but it is not so easy to understand how politicians can claim this bill is designed to help workers. 


Categories: PRO ActRight-to-Work