The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Feb. 6 by a vote of 224 to 194 that would change labor law in many ways. Secret-ballot union elections could be more easily bypassed by signing union authorization cards, classifying workers as independent contractors would be more difficult, and an expansive definition of “joint employer” would be revived. These three provisions are just a few of the changes that would result from the passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) opposes the bill, which most likely will not pass the Senate. The Trump administration announced Feb. 5 that the president would veto the measure if it came to his desk.
Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, SHRM’s president and chief executive officer, and Emily M. Dickens, SHRM’s corporate secretary, chief of staff and head of Government Affairs, sent a letter Feb. 5 to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and copied all members of the House. They wrote that SHRM is concerned with the following effects of PRO Act provisions:
- The violation of employee privacy. The legislation requires the disclosure of employees’ home addresses, work locations, shifts, job classifications, and, if available, cellphone and landline numbers, along with work and personal e-mail addresses.
- The revocation of attorney-client privilege. The legislation would discourage employers from seeking legal advice by requiring employers and their advisors to file public reports with the Department of Labor to disclose any arrangement that indirectly persuades employees about union organizing or collective bargaining.
- A condensing of the union election time frame. The PRO Act would require employers to provide the “Excelsior list”—the election eligibility list—within two days of when a union petition has been filed, which is not enough time for employers to gather that information.