House-Passed Competitiveness Bill Includes Harmful Labor Policies

On February 4, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the AGC-opposed America COMPETES Act, a bill meant to improve American economic competitiveness against China.

While previous iterations of the bill were bipartisan—including AGC-supported $52 billion in funding for the construction of new and modernizing existing semiconductor chip manufacturing plants—House Democrats also included several harmful construction policies, including those from the PRO Act—the greatest legislative threat to open-shop and union contractors.

Specifically, the bill would threaten the use of secret ballot voting in union organizing elections and instead impose card check, a voting process whereby employees sign their name on a union authorization card and submit it directly to union organizers. As a result, there would be no secret ballots or private votes.

The bill would also let an arbitration panel set the terms of initial collective bargaining agreements and thereby let outsiders set wages, benefit, work rules and other terms and conditions of employment if parties do not come to an agreement within 120 days.

Additionally, an attempt to include workforce programs in the competitiveness bill resulted in a provision that prioritized, funded and streamlined the apprenticeship system. However, this change would likely only benefit union-affiliated registered apprenticeship programs and would prevent bona fide and high-quality apprenticeship programs registered with the US Department of Labor that are not affiliated with a labor organization from receiving the same aid.

The legislative process moves to the Senate where AGC will seek to strip these harmful labor provisions.

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