U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) this week cosponsored two bills to hold companies who engage in union busting activities accountable and to protect striking workers’ access to health care. The No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act of 2023 would deny general business tax deductions for union busting activities. The Striking and Locked Out Workers Healthcare Protection Act would protect workers’ right to access their health insurance during a lock-out or strike.
“Our workers deserve to be protected when they are fighting for improved working conditions and fairer pay, and American taxpayer dollars should not be subsidizing anti-union activity by corporations,” said Senator Padilla. “Protecting the right to strike means ensuring workers have continued access to the benefits they agreed to and protects workers from unfair strike-breaking tactics. As we work to strengthen our economy and protect workers, Congress must act to hold predatory employers accountable for unfair practices.”
No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act of 2023
The legislation would end taxpayer subsidization of anti-union activities by preventing corporations from deducting their union-busting expenses from their taxes. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that corporate payments to union-avoidance consultants total at least $340 million annually. All of this spending is currently tax-deductible as a general business expense. Even after courts rule that they illegally violated their workers’ rights, the current tax code rewards corporations with tax write-offs.
In addition to Senator Padilla, who also cosponsored the bill during the 117th Congress, the bill is also introduced by Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Jon Fetterman (D-Penn.).
The legislation is endorsed by The National Employment Law Project, United Steelworkers, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Communications Workers of America, International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, United Food and Commercial Workers, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Transport Workers Union of America, and International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
Full text of the No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act of 2023 is available here.
Striking and Locked Out Workers Healthcare Protection Act
This bill would create a separate unfair labor practice category for when employers cut or alter workers’ health insurance while they are on strike or locked out. Employers who commit this violation will be subject to civil monetary penalties reflective of their history of violations, their size, the scope of the harm, and the public interest – a mechanism similar to what’s used in the PRO Act. Cutting off health insurance for striking or locked out workers threatens the health and wellbeing of workers, their families, and their communities, and has occurred in workplaces across the country.
In addition to Senator Padilla, the legislation is also introduced by Senators Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), John Fetterman (D-Penn), Ed Markey (D-Mass), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
This legislation is endorsed by Communications Workers of America (CWA), NewsGuild-CWA, International Union, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers (BCTGM), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Communications Workers of America (CWA), United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), International Association of Iron Workers (IW), and United Steelworkers (USW).
Full text of the Striking and Locked Out Workers Healthcare Protection Act is available here.
Senator Padilla is a strong advocate for corporate accountability and protecting workers’ rights. Last week, Padilla joined his colleagues in introducing the PRO Act of 2023, a comprehensive proposal to protect workers’ right to come together and bargain for higher wages, better benefits, and safer workplaces. He also joined his colleagues in introducing the Nationwide Right to Unionize Act. This legislation would support the right to unionize by prohibiting states from banning union security agreements through “right-to-work” laws.