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Local Opinion: Budget bill includes fines that would hurt Arizona businesses

Local Opinion: Budget bill includes fines that would hurt Arizona businesses

The following is the opinion and analysis of the writers:

Excessive penalties on local business owners and other provisions in the House budget reconciliation bill, the Build Back Better Act, would threaten Arizona businesses of all sizes, undermining job creation and economic investment in our communities. After what has been an extraordinarily challenging year and a half, these egregious fines could easily be the final nail in the coffin for many businesses.

These overly punitive penalties were taken straight out of the highly partisan “Protecting the Right to Organize Act” (PRO Act) — legislation that would be detrimental to Arizona’s businesses, workers, and economy.

Since proponents knew they could not pass the PRO Act on its own, they are now sneaking in some of the worst pieces of it into a budget bill that doesn’t need as many votes — or any bipartisan support — to pass it.

That includes hefty fines of up to $50,000 for what are known as unfair labor practices under the National Labor Relations Act. The catch is, these fines could be applied to something as small as hanging a flyer or notice in the wrong spot, which has nothing to do with a workplace’s actual labor conditions.

Even worse, the budget bill even includes fines that could be levied against directors or officers of a company personally.

Not only could these penalties easily pile up and put local businesses in the red, it also is not hard to see how unions could use them to their advantage.

Union bosses could essentially use the threat of turning in local businesses for every minor infraction as leverage in order to gain greater access to employees and even force unionization onto a workplace.

That is, after all, the original intent of the PRO Act — vastly expanding the power of unions to force their agenda onto local businesses and workers alike.

As written, the PRO Act would allow for unions to engage in secondary boycotts, allowing them to strike and picket at neutral, third-party businesses that have nothing to do with a labor dispute and thereby exposing countless Arizona businesses and consumers to increased harassment and intimidation.

The PRO Act would also make it nearly impossible for Arizona businesses to work with — or for Arizonans to operate as — independent contractors by enforcing a failed policy from California known as the “ABC test.”

This would limit vital economic and income opportunities for Arizona workers while foisting massive new costs onto business owners.

Perhaps worst of all, the PRO Act would abolish Arizona’s right to work laws and similar ones in dozens of states nationwide. These protections have been critical in building a positive business climate that attracts new companies while ensuring workers aren’t being forced to contribute to unions as a condition of employment.

Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly saw fit to keep their distance from the misguided PRO Act. Hopefully they continue to recognize the damage that passing some of the bill’s most harmful provisions, like the increased fines on employers or losing our constitutionally protected Right to Work status, would have on Arizona businesses and oppose these efforts.

Opinion submitted by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry; Phoenix Chamber of Commerce; Tucson Metro Chamber; and the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce.

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