By Deepa Bhate
Even amid stagflation and poor labor participation rates nationally, the Biden administration continues to push dangerous legislation and policies that would devastate Alabama’s commercial construction industry and put hundreds of thousands of jobs across our state at risk.
The Protecting the Right to Organize Act is one of those. The PRO Act would cause sweeping economic consequences across the United States by repealing right-to-work laws in 27 states, including Alabama. Workers in our state would no longer have the choice of whether or not to join unions and could be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment.
Keep in mind that more than 95.1% of Alabama’s construction workers today freely choose not to belong to a union.
Overall, the PRO Act, if passed, would also undo decades of established labor union law, upset the balance of rights between labor unions and businesses, force independent worker reclassification and impose a broad and costly joint-employer standard.
The independent worker reclassification and joint-employer standard components would have differential impacts across the states. In Alabama alone, estimates project that 301,335 independent workers would be adversely impacted, and 139,149 franchisee employees would also be affected.
Another major aspect of the PRO Act is that the legislation would mandate quickie elections, which would allow unions to hold a workplace representation vote as soon as organizers receive the requisite number of signatures from employees. This gives employers almost no opportunity to engage in any kind of fair campaign to educate workers about the reasons why they might not want to join a union. For example, workers often object to mandatory dues being taken out their paychecks and the inability to earn more and advance within a company based on merit-based performance.
Additionally, the legislation would not only force employers to divulge private information to union bosses about their employees but also deny workers the right to a secret ballot.
Associated Builders and Contractors of Alabama and our national organization are fighting tooth and nail to make sure this regressive legislation does not reach the floor of the U.S. Senate following its passage in the House. The commercial construction industry in Alabama prides itself on advancing opportunity for all, and the PRO Act would eviscerate that mission.
With strong pro-jobs, pro-opportunity leaders like Sens. Richard Shelby and Tommy Tuberville and future Sen. Katie Britt, Alabama is well-positioned to be at the forefront of stopping the PRO Act’s wide-ranging ramifications from ever becoming reality. ABC of Alabama will continue to fight for a 21st century commercial construction industry that strengthens Alabama communities, grows good-paying jobs and elevates modern opportunity in every corner of our state.
Together, we will build a strong future for generations of Alabamians to come.
Deepa Bhate, the CEO of Birmingham-based Building & Earth Sciences, currently serves as chair of Associated Builders and Contractors of Alabama. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.