Why should California employers care about another state’s Senate runoff race? Here’s why they should care: The Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act).
Typically, employers doing business in California seldom invest themselves in what’s happening in Congress. That’s because California labor laws are generally more protective of employee rights. But this one is worth watching, especially given the uncertainty surrounding control of the Senate and its relationship with the incoming Administration.
On February 6, 2020, the House of Representatives passed the PRO Act (the full text of the act is found here), which seeks to offer significant amendments to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This legislation passed the House largely along party lines, again underscoring the importance of the January 2021 elections. If it makes its way through the Senate and is signed by President Biden in its current form, it could drastically affect the current state of labor relations between management, workers, and unions.
Many have described the PRO Act as a union, pro-labor wish list. It’s obvious why. To name just a few changes, the PRO Act would amend the NLRA as follows:
It’s doubtful that the PRO Act will pass as written. But even if another iteration of the bill proceeds through the Senate and onto the President’s desk, one thing is clear about what the PRO Act portends—federal labor law is on the agenda for the Democratic party.
In sum, the PRO Act could provide unions with the tools necessary to make labor organizing a top priority in 2021 and beyond. Employers who are unfamiliar with this new federal-labor landscape may find themselves on the other end of an unfair labor practice charge or facing hefty monetary penalties (or both). California employers should pay close attention to the future of Washington D.C., even if the headlines only read “Georgia.”
The Coblentz Employment team will continue to monitor this proposed legislation and provide necessary updates. For further information or questions, contact any of our Employment attorneys, including Fred Alvarez (firstname.lastname@example.org), Stephen Lanctot (email@example.com), or Tom Lin (firstname.lastname@example.org).