While the PRO Act may be stalled in the Senate, new labor mandate provisions from the PRO Act are under consideration for inclusion in America economic competitiveness legislation.
Over the last year, the House and Senate have passed two competing bills meant to improve American economic competitiveness against China – the Senate-passed United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) and the House-passed America COMPETES Act. Congress has begun the process of reconciling the differences between those bills to create a final bill that could become law.
AGC supported the USICA version and its $52 billion in funding for the construction of new and modernizing existing semiconductor chip manufacturing plants because it didn’t contain extraneous provisions. The House-passed COMETES Act included harmful labor policies, including those from the PRO Act—the greatest legislative threat to open-shop and union contractors. AGC shared its concerns with the 107-member Conference Committee.
The COMPETES Act 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;
- 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; and
- Discriminate against high quality apprenticeship programs. 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 has taken nearly a year to get to this point, and while initially presented as an urgent need, it will likely take the remainder of the spring to reconcile the differences, if not longer.
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