Dangerous PRO Act Would Give Illegal Workers More Rights than Americans

Feld workers pick onion bulbs on a Vidalia onion farm in Lyons, Ga. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Illegal immigrants who take jobs in the United States are not covered by union regulations or other protections under the federal National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This is not surprising, as American laws were not written to cover those who come to this country illegally.


A proposed law currently under consideration in the House of Representatives would change this in drastic and unprecedented ways.

David Williams of the Taxpayer Protection Alliance was first to raise awareness of the dangers of the Protecting the Right to Organize, or PRO Act. Under current regulations, workers seeking to unionize can use signed cards to demonstrate that a clear and commanding majority favor unionizing. At that point, an employer can either accept the unionization, or offer workers a secret ballot election. The latter can prevent coercion by unions and protect workers’ voting privacy. Some workers who do not want to unionize will sign cards to give their fellow workers the opportunity to vote. Elections are overseen by the NLRB to ensure they are fair and free.

The NLRA bans employers from interfering in collective bargaining. Workers who believe their collective bargaining rights have been interfered with can sue and if they win can receive damages and other awards. Illegal immigrants are not covered and covering them has never been the intent of the NLRA.

In 2009, pro-union Democrats introduced the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which unlike what its name implies, would have done away with secret ballot elections and declared open season for coercing workers into unionizing whether they wanted to or not. That radical bill failed even while the Democrats controlled Congress and the White House.


The PRO Act, H.R. 2474, has now been introduced and its proponents promise it’s a scaled-back approach to the EFCA – but it’s actually worse than the EFCA. Not only does the PRO Act leave unionizers free to coerce workers, it would grant illegal workers protections not even afforded American workers.


It would make illegal immigrants eligible, for the first time, for back pay, consequential damages and “an additional amount…two times the amount of damages awarded.” Illegal immigrants would also be able to sue the employer in federal court if the NLRB fails to award these remedies within 60 days.

Currently employers may fire any workers found to be in the country illegally. This is to protect our immigration law and American workers and deter illegal immigration. U.S laws are not intended to cover people who violate our laws upon entering our sovereign country.

The outrageous PRO Act also subjects owners and employers to civil penalties up to $100,000 from accusations by illegal workers. This puts them in the crosshairs for accusations of firing them over their union status rather than being in the country illegally. A partisan-controlled NLRB could use this provision of the PRO Act to destroy a small business with one ruling favoring an illegal worker – who was never supposed to be covered by American labor laws in the first place. The bill’s language is clear:

“…no relief under this subsection shall be denied on the basis that the employee is, or was during the time of relevant employment or during the back pay period, an unauthorized alien as defined in section 274A(h)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1324a(h)(3)) or any other provision of Federal law relating to the unlawful employment of aliens.”


It’s right there. The PRO Act grants unauthorized aliens the ability to weaponize American courts against American employers. And Democrats unanimously rejected an amendment that would have required unions to verify an employee’s legal status before counting them as favoring a union election.

This insidious bill challenges the meaning and value of citizenship and tips the scales in favor of illegal workers. It also favors union bosses, who overwhelmingly support Democrats with their unions’ money and support, at a time when union membership continues to decline. No Republican should support it. Congress should defend citizens, not subject them to bogus civil suits by people whose first act on American soil is to violate our sovereignty.


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