The House passed the PRO Act on Wednesday on a mostly party-line vote in a push to rewrite many labor laws in the United States when it comes to unions.
The bill would broaden the definition of an employee in the United States in the hopes of allowing independent contractors to join unions and would also put an end to “right-to-work” laws by allowing bargaining agreements to require union dues be paid by all workers the agreement represents regardless of if said worker is a member of a union.
Right-to-work laws say workers should not be forced to join a union or pay union dues if they don’t want to.
The beef that Congressman Jim Banks (R-IN-03) has with the bill is that it opens the door for people who are in the country illegally and working to be able to join unions. He said on the House floor Wednesday that Congress’s duty right now is to help American businesses recover from the pandemic.
“This bill prevents us from fulfilling that duty and instead prioritizes the interests of illegal immigrants and union bosses,” Banks said. He added that he is the grandson and son of union members at a factory in northern Indiana.
“It’s a travesty that Democrats think that people who broke our nation’s laws deserve the same labor rights as they (his grandfather and father) do,” he said. “This bill, as written, would lessen American citizens’ union voting power and hand it to people who aren’t even here legally.”
Banks proposed an amendment to the bill that would have essentially made it illegal for unions to seek out workers who are illegal immigrants to join up. The Amendment was struck down by House Democrats who have the majority vote in the House.
Five Republicans in the House voted in favor of the measure while one Democrat voted against it. The bill has a bleak future in the Senate where it will need 60-votes, meaning some Republican support, to pass.