COLUMN: Congress debates bill to hurt Georgia’s economy – LaGrange Daily News

By Vance Smith and Richard Smith
Representative at Georgia House

TThe news surrounding the national economy is grim and seems to be getting grimmer. Soaring gas prices, inflationary pressures, a disrupted supply chain and persistent labor shortages have conspired to make running a business significantly more expensive than it was eighteen months ago. Now, with stock markets in turmoil and interest rates rising, we are beginning to hear whispers of a recession.

It is important to realize that these are the results of conscious, albeit poor, policy choices.

Here in Georgia we have made decidedly different policy choices that have yielded far better results. Leading publication Area Development has named Georgia a “Top State for Doing Business” eight years in a row. We are proud to say that here, particularly in the Columbus / LaGrange / Pine Mountain area, we have developed a solid manufacturing and small business base that contributes to the growth of Georgia’s economy and creates good, high-paying jobs for working families .

This did not happen by accident. Our success is also the result of conscious political decisions.

Such a policy, which has created countless jobs for Georgians more than 75 years after it was enacted, is our state’s law on the right to work. This law states that Georgia workers cannot be compelled to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of their employment. This is how it protects employees. Suppose a majority of workers at a Starbucks in Atlanta vote to form a union, as is their right. As part of the right to work, each individual employee in this shop also had the right to choose whether or not to join the union.

But Georgia’s workers would lose that right and be forced to join the union under a proposed federal law called the PRO Act (Protecting the Right to Organize Act). The PRO Act would eliminate the right to work in 27 states and require workers to join a union or pay union dues, which average about $1,000 a year in Georgia.

That’s not all this over-the-top work wish list of an invoice would do. It targets workers’ freedoms in a different way. For example, it would eliminate workers’ right to a secret ballot in union elections. Instead, the PRO Act would require workers to publicly sign – or refuse – a union authorization card in front of union organizers and even their colleagues. Imagine the outcry when a politician proposes to abolish secret ballots to elect federal, state, and local candidates.

The PRO Act also puts workers’ privacy at risk. One provision requires employers to provide workers’ private information, such as home addresses and phone numbers, to union officials without workers’ consent. This, of course, exposes them to potential threats and harassment from overzealous union organizers.

The PRO Act is fundamentally changing the American workplace in over 50 unique ways, including reclassifying many gig economy workers as employees and making it more difficult for entrepreneurs to enter the franchise business market.

You would think, after seeing the failures of federal government policies, our own US Senator Raphael Warnock is one of the co-sponsors of the job-killing PRO bill. That could be because he took more union campaign money than all but two other US senators.

Warnock should be aware that a recent Georgia Chamber of Commerce poll shows that Peach State voters oppose the above provisions of the PRO Act and that more than half of all Georgians (52%) say they do they are less likely to vote for a member of Congress who supports it.

The good news is that the PRO bill, at least as it stands, doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in the Senate. The bad news is that the bill’s supporters continue to try to inject his language into other bills they believe would be more popular. Senator Warnock should be notified. Georgians are industrious and hardworking, as evidenced by our economic strength. They don’t need their United States Senator working with them, not against them.