October 23, 2021

PRO Act would devastate local business community

Businesses throughout Nogales and Santa Cruz County work hard to support our communities by creating jobs and economic opportunities for hard-working Arizonans.

The Nogales-Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce works to help local businesses by supporting policies that enable them to continue making these investments in order to bolster our economy and improve quality of life in Arizona communities such as ours.

That is what makes current efforts to reverse decades of established labor law by some legislators in Washington such a negative approach when it comes to creating jobs and new opportunities for small business owners. If passed, legislation known as the PRO Act – short for Protecting the Right to Organize – would threaten local businesses, undermine the ability of Arizonans to work as independent contractors and scrap the right-to-work laws that protect Arizona workers.

This economically damaging bill would overturn all right-to-work laws in the many states that have passed them, including in Arizona, where lawmakers thought the laws were so important they wrote them into our state constitution. The PRO Act would take an ax to Arizona’s right-to-work protections, meaning workers again could be forced into paying union dues regardless of whether they voted for unionization.

Moreover, the PRO Act imposes a policy that reclassifies independent contractors as full-time employees. Doing so would make it harder for Arizonans to find flexible income-building opportunities, while also removing a critical tool businesses rely on to fulfill their operational needs. Particularly in a small border town such as Nogales, where many residents and businesses rely on independent contracting to keep the economy moving, this move could have serious negative implications on our recovery from the past year and a half of economic turbulence.

Not only that, but reclassifying workers as the PRO Act would do also would come with a hefty price tag for our state and our country. According to a recent study, the PRO Act would reclassify a little more than 10 percent of Arizona’s more than 440,000 independent contractors – costing us hundreds of millions of dollars. Nationally, reclassifying independent contractors in this way could cost anywhere between $17 billion and $57 billion.

This is not the direction policy discussions in Washington should be headed. So far, U.S. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly have kept their distance from the PRO Act as standalone legislation in Congress. The consequences for small businesses throughout our region and across the country would be dire.

We need policies that support and uplift small businesses and workers so our communities can prosper and reach their true potential, not policy such as the PRO Act, which would hinder economic opportunities, slow business growth and threaten the lives and livelihoods of Arizona workers and small-business owners.

This article was originally posted on PRO Act would devastate local business community