Pass the PRO Act, Because Richard Trumka Needs to Guarantee His Next Meal

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, Tuesday, April 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The well-fed Union boss, AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka, took to the pages of The Wall Street Journal to blast an article by investigative journalist Kimberly Strassel.

Strassel alleged that Big Labor’s insistence on having the PRO Act codified into the infrastructure bill is hampering bipartisan discussion and passage. Republicans recently countered with a $928 billion package, and Biden has shifted his former Memorial Day deadline, but rumbling on the ground reflects that this is not something that will be settled quickly; the PRO Act provision still resident in the bill is probably why.

Strassel wrote,

President Biden has a union problem already. Along with climate change, Mr. Biden’s top agenda item is boosting organized labor—a payoff to the unions that spent big to propel him to victory. So far, though, it’s going nowhere, and it’s a big reason Democrats may kill an infrastructure deal.

Where’s the lie? Biden has consistently issued full-throated support and sops to Big Labor concerns over the needs of working individuals of all calibers: employee, independent professional, entrepreneur, or small business owner. In this instance, all of these concerns are pushing back… HARD.

After a year of struggling to maintain capital and stay afloat, Americans will have no more of government’s interference in their ability to put food on the table and take care of their families; not for bloated Unions that represent a small segment of the working public. A segment whose numbers are diminishing each year.

Strassel attests to this, as well as the shenanigans Biden pulled with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in order to serve his Union overlords:

Democratic presidents traditionally work their union magic through the National Labor Relations Board, via rulings that stack the deck for labor. And indeed, within hours of inauguration, Mr. Biden took the unprecedented step of firing NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb. Mr. Biden immediately installed a new acting general counsel, who in turn immediately dismantled most of Mr. Robb’s legacy. In normal times, labor unions would be thrilled.

But these aren’t normal times; for unions, they’re desperate ones. It’s grown clear to labor leaders that the usual game-rigging is no longer enough to convince Americans to sign up for union bondage. The Obama NLRB devoted itself to granting union favors, yet unions lost members in the Obama years. The share of American workers in unions fell to 10.7% in 2016—its lowest level on record. Only 6.3% of private-sectors workers are today in unions, and even public union membership has stalled.

This is the main reason why Trumka wants the PRO Act rammed through. In Trumka’s naked propaganda piece: “PRO Act Builds it Back Better with Unions,” he maligns those very independent professionals who are fighting for their lives and livelihoods. According to Trumka, anyone who chooses to work for themselves, and any company that contracts these professionals, is “anti-worker.” Trumka gaslights that the PRO Act is only about the freedom to collectively bargain. He gives no mention that if passed, the PRO Act will immediately cancel right-to-work laws in 27 States. No mention of killing the independent professionals’ ability to work as such. No mention of forced unionization via “card check.” No mention that Unions will have the right to access employees personal information to use toward their ends—including intimidation.

No, Trumka goes on about how beneficial Unions are for “workers” and if they could only have a chance to band together and collectively bargain, everyone would realize this.

There would be no need to “Build Back Better” if government and Unions had not banded together to whittle and outright destroy independent professionals and small businesses this past year. The PRO Act does not build anything back, better or otherwise; it looks to finish the job started before, and in the midst of, the pandemic.

In his WSJ letter, Trumka opines:

Kimberley Strassel’s “Biden’s Big Labor Bind” (Potomac Watch, May 21) is another laundry list of antiworker talking points. The American Jobs Plan is not threatened by America’s labor movement. It is strengthened by us and the inclusion of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.

How exactly is seeking to cancel out independent professionals seen as a strength? It’s a sign of weakness when you seek to destroy that which you do not understand, and that you do not appreciate.

Trumka calls us “anti-worker.” Well, we call Unions and their ilk “anti-professional.” Unions are threatened by people who have the unique abilities and skill sets to forge their own path and who do not rely upon some outside entity or group to bargain for wages and working conditions—we do a great job figuring that out for ourselves, and many of us have built a lucrative life around it. The fact that 57 million Americans are independent professionals, and many others employ these same professionals in some area of their life, shows that we are the majority—not the Unions. Unions are now the minority, and the too-well-fed carcasses of Trumka, AFL-CIO Treasurer Liz Shuler, and American Federation of Teacher’s President Randi Weingarten, do not like it at all.

This behavior is standard operating procedure for Big Labor and the Democrat Party: force the entire country to accommodate a minority viewpoint because the majority needs its comeuppance. It is clear that, when given a choice, very few professionals have an interest in being part of a union. Instead of accepting that reality, Trumka and Co. strive to create national laws that will wipe out the right of Americans to pursue work as they choose: wiping out the freedom to contract commercially with whomever you wish, the ability to build flexibility into one’s schedule in order to care for children or a loved one, and the accommodation for those with chronic illness or disabilities to pursue work otherwise removed from them in the traditional marketplace.

They win, you lose. Sucks to be you.

Trumka continues the pretense of encouraging democracy, while twisting the arms of lawmakers, and threatening the people who resist his thug tactics.

Let’s clarify a few points. First, the PRO Act will not “force Americans” into anything. Instead, it will give workers the choice to form a union through a free and fair election. That’s not a power grab—just workplace democracy.

Here is the way Unions use language to deceive. Workplaces are not democracies, and they never have been. The workplace offers a certain service or product, and they employ individuals to assist them in fulfilling the needs of the clients/consumers. An employer and employee then enter into a contractual exchange. I haven’t worked a full-time gig in decades, but I can remember the amount of paperwork and signatures required by me in order to “secure” my employment. Any way you want to fluff it, those are contracts, which means you, the employee, are in a contractual relationship. This illusion of “protections” and “guarantees” is just that.

In that contractual relationship, said employee fulfills certain work requirements, gets a certain amount of pay with a certain amount of conditions thrown in (e.g., benefits, paid time off, etc.), and contracts to work within a certain set of hours as allowed by law.

If an employee chooses to agree to that, signs all that paperwork, and his/her working life remains amenable, then the employee sticks around. If the employer and employee choose to re-negotiate that contract for different terms, then that is their right. Most of the time this shows up in the form of annual reviews, a pay bump, and potential bonuses. If the employees’ re-negotiations do not render the result desired or the employee can no longer abide the workplace conditions, then the employee has every right to move on and rescind the contract. So does the employer. That’s what “at will” is all about. It works both ways, and in my time as a brick-and-mortar, 9-5 person, I made those very choices to stick around, or leave for a better opportunity. This is still America, after all.

Trumka acts as though working professionals are too stupid to be able to do this without the help of a union. Instead, Trumka chooses to point to the independent professionals’ way of life and operating, claim it is abusive and “anti-worker”, and then make every effort to tear it down.

Even when one of Trumka’s local AFL-CIO chapters attempts to do just what I described on a smaller scale, independent of the larger union concern, Trumka tries shut it down. It’s the “I can do this myself” mindset that bothers these types the most.

No one is stopping any company from forming unions, but this is what generally happens: If the Union’s concept of “workplace democracy” results in a decision that their presence is neither wanted or needed (as was the case in Amazon’s Bessemer, AL warehouse), then the Union’s answer is to cry foul and use thug tactics to cram their agenda down people’s throats.

The case of Marisa Zamora is a perfect example of this.

Zamora is a nurse in Corpus Christi, TX working for an HCA Holdings hospital. In 2018, she sought to educate her coworkers on how they could decertify from the National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC), the union that controls the hospital where Zamora works.

When Zamora sought access to the neutrality agreement that had been entered into secretly, without the workers permission, she was denied.

As the National Right to Work Foundation explains,

“Neutrality agreements” are deals between union officials and employers, usually without the knowledge of employees in a workplace. They frequently contain provisions that require employers to silence opposition to unionization, hand over workers’ personal information for coercive “card check” drives that bypass the protections of a secret ballot election, provide union organizers with preferential access to the workplace, and even ensure employers will oppose later efforts to decertify, or remove, the union.

In Zamora’s case, she began circulating fliers and other materials in June 2018 to educate her coworkers on how they could obtain a vote to decertify the union. A brief supporting her exceptions recounts that union agents “repeatedly ripp[ed] down her fliers” and that HCA officials referenced a secret agreement with the union when they denied “her access to post material on protected bulletin boards, where her material would be shielded from vandalism.”

Zamora subsequently asked both NNOC and HCA officials to show her any “neutrality agreement” that might have triggered those efforts to block her and her coworkers’ rights. All her requests were denied, despite statements by HCA agents to her that indicated a “neutrality agreement” existed.

Zamora’s case will be decided by the NLRB, despite this interference. However, as Strassel explained in her article above, in President Biden’s very questionable firing of General Counsel Peter Robb, and replacing him with Acting General Counsel Peter Ohr, Biden’s goal was to make an end-run around this case, and cases like it, in order to keep these illegitimate practices in place; thus securing Union power.

Thankfully, this maneuver appears to have failed… for now. What this illustrates is the no-holds-barred, fisticuffs employed by the Labor Unions at all levels, to keep themselves inserted in individuals and corporations lives; whether we want them there or not. If the PRO Act gets passage, we will no longer have that choice.

Since the Janus decision, where employees now have a right to divest from union membership if they choose, Labor Unions have failed to accept the inevitable: that their engagement with the future of work is out of step with the American worker and independent professional in the 21st Century. Instead of accepting this sunset, and changing accordingly, they are doubling down on destroying the working life of employees and independent professionals through legislation like the PRO Act.

Trumka and his cabal feed off power, and are only interested in funding their next meal.