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Commentary: Pelosi's 'PRO Act' puts special interests over SC workers and economy

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Pat McKinney is a retired businessman from Charleston, a former president of Kiawah Island Real Estate and a former chairman of the South Carolina Ports Authority.

With our economy humming and unemployment nationwide at historic lows, the last thing our elected leaders should be doing is bringing forward policies that could cause harm to the workers and job creators who drive our economy forward.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plans to bring legislation to a vote in the U.S. House in coming weeks that would put the interests of powerful labor bosses ahead of the rights of hardworking American workers. And it would be detrimental to the Lowcountry.

The bill is called the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, and while its supporters claim it would simply make it easier for employees to unionize. its details reveal that it is a power grab by big labor interests — one that would strip away workers’ privacy rights in order to subject them to heavy-handed organizing tactics.

What Speaker Pelosi and union bosses want is to force employers to turn over their employees’ private information to unions without worker consent, providing employee cellphone numbers, home addresses and other sensitive information to union organizers who could then use it to pressure those workers to agree to a union organizer’s demands.

Not only could employees face union bosses’ harassment at their workplaces but also at their homes and elsewhere as they simply try to go about their lives, and they would also lose their free choice when it comes to labor elections. To add insult to injury, the PRO Act would crush millions of Americans taking their own initiative by placing devastating limitations on an individual’s ability to work as an independent contractor.

This bill would disproportionately impact the Lowcountry where we have grown our manufacturing base over the past decade, thanks to the leadership of Gov. Nikki Haley.

While it’s no surprise that Speaker Pelosi and other Washington liberals would push this ill-conceived proposal, I sincerely hope that our 1st District congressman, Joe Cunningham, will strongly oppose this bill.

Recent polling shows that a strong majority of South Carolinians agrees that the PRO Act is too radical. Statewide and in the 1st Congressional District, more than 60 percent of voters oppose the PRO Act when they learn what it is, while more than twice as many say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate for Congress who supports the legislation than say they’d be more likely to vote for that candidate.

When Speaker Pelosi brings this legislation up for a vote, congressman Cunningham has an opportunity to protect our jobs and stop big labor from interfering in South Carolina’s economy. We don’t need Speaker Pelosi telling business leaders how to create jobs.

Pat McKinney is a retired business executive from Charleston. He is a former president of Kiawah Island Real Estate and a former chairman of the South Carolina Ports Authority.

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