Reps. Norcross, Chu, and 101 Other Members of Congress Introduce Legislation to End Corporate Handouts for Union Busting
July 20, 2022
Today, U.S. Representatives Donald Norcross (D-NJ-01) and Judy Chu (D-CA-27) were joined by 101 of their colleagues to introduce legislation that would deny American taxpayer subsidies for corporate activity intended to discourage workers from exercising their legally protected right to unionize.
“American taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the bill for corporations engaged in anti-worker activity,” said Congressman Norcross. “We need to level the playing field for workers and end handouts for union-busting campaigns. It’s not fair that workers pay taxes on their hard-earned paychecks while their bosses save money crushing worker organizing. Why does our tax code favor employers at the expense of the American worker? It’s time to bring fairness to the tax code and end tax breaks for union busting.”
"The right to organize is not just protected by law, it is the official policy of the U.S. government to encourage workers to exercise this right,” said Congresswoman Chu. “However, our tax code provides companies lucrative tax breaks for the hundreds of millions of dollars they spend yearly to upend pro-union action and organizing. The No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act would not only end taxpayer subsidies for these anti-union efforts, but would give workers the fair shot they deserve to form a union."
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935 makes it the official policy of the United States government to encourage collective bargaining and protect workers’ freedom of association.
However, as workers around the country organize their workplaces at historic levels – asking for fair pay, safer work conditions, and better benefits – employers are spending an estimated $340 million a year on union-busting campaigns, sometimes even using tactics that violate the NLRA. These expenses are currently tax deductible and regularly written off by bosses as everyday business expenses.
The No Tax Break for Union Busting Act would end taxpayer paying for anti-union behavior by corporations. The bill would classify corporate interference in worker organization campaigns as political speech under the tax code, thereby revoking its tax deductibility. And, because of former President Trump’s 2017 tax package, workers are not even able to deduct their union dues or the cost of work tools from their taxes as they had been able to do previously.
Additionally, the No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act would require corporations to report anti-worker interventions to the IRS to ensure they pay their fair share of taxes and do not receive undeserved tax deductions.
Common anti-worker interventions that are currently tax deductible include so-called “captive audience meetings,” where employers hold mandatory meetings during work hours and pressure workers against voting for unionization; hiring expensive “union avoidance” firms to lead union-busting campaigns; threatening to withhold benefits from pro-union workers; firing pro-union workers; and closing workplaces that appear to be pro-union or that have recently voted to form a union.
"Workers who engage in collective action and organizing drives deserve to have the chance to make their voices heard,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. “As we've seen a wave of union drives across the country, we've also witnessed a wave of companies using union busting tactics to stop their workers from organizing. We should not be subsidizing intimidation and bullying tactics, and this legislation would end this practice. Companies that engage in union busting shouldn't reap financial benefits; they should pay penalties.”
“Workers form labor unions because they understand that collective bargaining gives them a much-needed voice in the workplace,” said United Steelworkers (USW) International President Tom Conway. “Unfortunately, this is the same reason that corporations spend so freely on efforts to intimidate and coerce workers when they try to organize. The USW applauds Rep. Norcross and all the sponsors of the No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act, legislation that would ensure that employers interfering in workers’ rights must at very least bear the full cost themselves.”
“For so long corporations, and the decades-long strategic anti-union campaign they have engaged in, have stood in the way of workers who want to fight for their rights at work,” said CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens. “We are currently living through one of the most pivotal moments in the history of the labor movement as more and more workers around the country join together to form unions and fight for better pay, standards and working conditions. We have to do everything in our power to crack down on union busting and ensure that all workers who want to form a union have a chance to do so.”
“For decades, employers have used their power to steamroll and silence workers organizing for a seat at the table, leading to stagnant wages and skyrocketing inequality. We applaud Representatives Norcross, Chu, Doggett, and others for working to pass the No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act, which would end federal tax subsidies for anti-union activities,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “Taxpayers should not be picking up the tab for employers who try to impede their workers’ freedoms.”
“Companies like Starbucks spend millions of dollars union-busting and fighting their own workers, and then get to write off these expenses as tax deductibles. Starbucks is currently being prosecuted for over 200 violations of labor law in Western New York alone. The No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act is a great step towards holding union-busters accountable,” said the Starbucks Workers United campaign.
"Our union has a long history of helping workers form a union and we know all too well the lengths corporations will go to try to prevent workers from having a voice at work,” said Joseph Sellers, general president of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART). “It’s time to end the ability of corporations to deduct union busting activity from taxes—a practice that allows corporations to get off scot-free with union-busting activity. We greatly appreciate Congressman Norcross, Congresswoman Chu, and their colleagues for their leadership on this legislation and stand ready to advocate with them for its passage.”
“Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize the efforts of employers to silence workers, and the federal government should not be incentivizing anti-union behavior. The No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act would end this abhorrent practice and help restore balance to our economy so working families have a fair shake,” said Transportation Workers Union (TWU) International President John Samuelsen. “The TWU stands with working people across the United States in calling on Congress to pass this legislation and for the President to sign it into law as quickly as possible.”
“I want to thank Reps. Donald Norcross and Judy Chu for introducing this important legislation, which will stop public subsidizing of union-busting campaigns. Companies should not be incentivized by the tax breaks they get when they keep their employees from exercising their collective bargaining rights, including engaging in unlawful labor practices,” said Robert Martinez, Jr., international president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. “It’s unfair that companies can simply write-off the millions they use to try to coerce workers from having a collective voice in the workplace.”
“The No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act is part of a broader push for labor law reform that will help us begin to turn the tide on a decades-old power imbalance that has harmed workers who are simply fighting for a better life,” said Marc Perrone, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) international president. “Working people everywhere are rediscovering the power that standing together can bring to the workplace and it’s time that our labor laws once again help build that power by favoring hard-working American families, rather than union-busting, tax-avoiding corporations.”
“The National Education Association applauds Congressman Norcross for standing up for the rights of workers with the introduction of the No Tax Breaks for Union Busting (NTBUB) Act,” said Marc Egan, government affairs director for the National Education Association (NEA). “Currently, our tax code allows corporations to write-off their anti-union campaigns as an ‘ordinary and necessary’ business expense. NTBUB would disallow this taxpayer-funded subsidy and require IRS reporting for corporations that engage in efforts to interfere with employees’ labor union involvement. This bill would strengthen worker rights by addressing inequities in the U.S. tax code.”
View a print-friendly explainer of the bill here.
The bill is endorsed by the following organizations: AFL-CIO, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), United Auto Workers (UAW), Communication Workers of America (CWA), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Transport Workers Union of America (TWU), International Brotherhood of Teamsters, International Union of Painters & Allied Trades (IUPAT), United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), United Steelworkers (USW), International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), National Education Association (NEA).
Along with U.S. Representatives Norcross and Chu, the No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act was introduced by U.S. Representatives Adam B. Schiff (CA-28), Adam Smith (WA-09), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Al Green (TX-09), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Andre Carson (IN-07), Andy Kim (NJ-03), Andy Levin (MI-09), Annie Kuster (NH-02), Anthony G. Brown (MD-04), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Brad Sherman (CA-30), Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Cindy Axne (IA-03), Conor Lamb (PA-17), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Darren Soto (FL-09), David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Dina Titus (NV-01), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At Large), Elissa Slotkin (MI-08), Frank J. Mrvan (IN-01), Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24), Gerry Connolly (VA-11), Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Grace Meng (NY-06), Haley Stevens (MI-11), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Jared Golden (ME-02), Jason Crow (CO-06), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Joe Courtney (CT-02), Joe Neguse (CO-01), John B. Larson (CT-01), John Garamendi (CA-03), John P. Sarbanes (MD-03), Joyce Beatty (OH-03), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Judy Chu (CA-27), Karen Bass (CA-37), Katie Porter (CA-45), Lauren Underwood (IL-14), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-At Large), Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Lori Trahan (MA-03), Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Marie Newman (IL-03), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Mark Takano (CA-41), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), Melanie Stansbury (NM-01), Mike Doyle (PA-18), Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Mondaire Jones (NY-17), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Nydia M. Velazquez (NY-07), Paul D. Tonko (NY-20), Pete Aguilar (CA-31), Peter Welch (VT-At Large), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Sean Casten (IL-06), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Shontel M. Brown (OH-11), Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Susan Wild (PA-07), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29), Thomas R. Suozzi (NY-03), Tim Ryan (OH-13), Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), Tony Cardenas (CA-29), Val B. Demings (FL-10), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), and Zoe Lofgren (CA-19).