Houses Passes Union-Backed Bill that Rewards Illegal Aliens
By Preston Huennekens |FAIR Take | February 2020
In the late hours of February 6th the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2474, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. FAIR firmly opposed this legislation, which changes labor law to reward illegal aliens. The bill passed in a 224-194 vote.
Since its founding in 1979, FAIR has stood to defend the rights of the working class Americans by protecting their job opportunities and wages against unfair competition from illegal aliens. Even Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, once supported this notion when he noted that immigrant labor leads to lower wages for American workers.
Labor union membership continues to shrink. Membership in a union among employed adults fell to 10.5 percent in 2018 – half of what it was in 1985. Fearing this loss of power, powerful union bosses crafted this legislation to swell their ranks regardless of the consequences. That includes giving even more rights to illegal aliens working in the United States.
The landmark National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) established the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Employees – including illegal aliens – can take claims against their employers to the NLRB. If the NLRB finds that an employer violated the collective bargaining rights of its employees, they become eligible for back pay and other remedies. A 2002 Supreme Court case, Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, ruled that illegal aliens are not eligible for back pay in this circumstance, even if they were among the employees taking claims before the NLRB.
The PRO Act overturns that ruling and would allow illegal aliens to receive back pay following a successful NLRB claim. This is problematic for a number of reasons. First, illegal aliens often work “under the table,” making it difficult to establish how much back pay they qualify for. It becomes the word of the illegal alien against the unscrupulous employer who chose to hire them.
Speaking of these dishonest employers, they are now discouraged from ever firing their illegal workers. The PRO Act allows for up to $100,000 in civil penalties for firing union workers because of their union status. If their employer decided to fire them because of their immigration status, the alien could sue them for up to $100,000, claiming their employer fired them because of their union membership.
As long as they remain in the workforce, illegal aliens will always undercut the wages and reduce the opportunities available to similarly-skilled American citizens. The only effective way to counter this is to mandate nationwide E-Verify for all employers and significantly increase worksite enforcement. The jobs magnet encourages illegal aliens to come to the United States. E-Verify and worksite enforcement would make those opportunities disappear, leaving illegal aliens no choice but to leave the United States.
The vote was mostly on party-lines, with seven Democratic defectors voting “no” and five Republican members voting “yes.” Democratic Representatives Stephanie Murphy (FL-7), Lucy McBath (GA-6), Kendra Horn (OK-5), Kurt Schrader (OR-5), Joe Cunningham (SC-1), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), and Ben McAdams (UT-4) voted against this troubling bill.
The Republicans who voted in favor of the FAIR-opposed PRO Act are Jeff Van Drew (NJ-2), Don Young (AK-At Large), Christopher Smith (NJ-4), John Katko (NY-24), and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1).