Worker Freedom

Why the PRO Act is Not Pro-Worker

The PRO Act ultimately restricts worker freedom and choice.

During his State of the Union Address, President Biden urged Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. While the bill had an almost inconsequential impact on the address—taking up about two seconds of an hour-long speech—the same cannot be said about how the bill would impact America’s workers.

Of note, the PRO Act contains provisions that would repeal Right to Work laws in 26 states. Right to Work policies, like ALEC’s Right to Work Act, give workers the right to choose whether or not they want to join or financially support a union, without this decision affecting their employment. Workers in states without Right to Work laws do not have this protection and can be fired or rejected from a job for their choice.

The PRO Act would also impose California-style regulations on independent contractors that severely restrict workers’ ability to keep their current work status. This ignores the fact that almost 80% of independent contractors prefer their current work arrangements and that, according to Mercatus Center research, California’s reform “resulted in a significant decline in self-employment and overall employment.” Conversely, ALEC’s Uniform Worker Classification Act (one of ALEC’s Essential Policy Solutions for 2024) helps protect independent contractors’ classification and workers’ right to set working relationships that work best for them.

It should be noted that the Department of Labor’s recent independent contractor classification rule that resembles the PRO Act reform is already facing multiple lawsuits filed by impacted freelancers and trade associations.

As the Institute for the American Worker has explained, policies in the PRO Act ultimately restrict worker freedom and choice. Similar overreaching federal policies continue to experience significant pushback and delays, and this provides a reminder for states to check if they are promoting or inhibiting worker freedom. State leaders should examine the model policies listed above and those included in the Labor Reform Policy: 50 State Factsheets, to guarantee that they are protecting the rights and freedoms of their workers.