The Bad Policy Idea That Just Won’t Die

Mead Treadwell is the former lieutenant governor of Alaska, and serves as a board member of Alaska Policy Forum.

A particularly dangerous idea has haunted at least two proposed laws in D.C. over the past year. It first appeared in the PRO Act, and when that bill was killed, it reappeared as a provision in the Build Back Better, which is now also all but dead.

The provision in question would, for the first time in history, permit the National Labor Relations Board to impose civil penalties of up to $100,000 per violation on businesses ruled to have committed unfair labor practices. Notably, no penalties would be levied against unions found to have committed an unfair practice.

This provision thoroughly rewrites the National Labor Relations Act, which was always intended as a remedial law, rather than a punitive one. Under this provision, the NLRA will be used by organized labor to impose “unionization by blackmail” against small employers who lack the resources to overcome mounting threats of frivolous complaints.

Another idea, pushed in the PRO Act, would damage the growing “gig” economy, by denying people the right to work as contractors in certain businesses. That, too, is a bad idea.

I support Alaska’s unions, and those businesses and employees who choose not to unionize. But I don’t think we should put our thumb on the scale and deny choices to Alaska’s businesses and workers as these proposed laws would.

Senate leadership is promising to introduce another version of the Build Back Better bill or a different reconciliation bill altogether this year. I am sure our delegation in Washington, D.C. will get great pressure to join. I hope they will work to ensure these freedom- and job-killing ideas never see the light of day again.