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Casey, Wyden, Murray, Booker, Van Hollen introducing the No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act to end the taxpayer subsidization of anti-union activity by corporations

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced the No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act to end the taxpayer subsidization of corporate union busting campaigns. As workers around the country join together to fight for better pay and safer working conditions by unionizing, they often face million-dollar corporate intimidation campaigns to prevent unionization. To add insult to injury, corporations are allowed to write off these anti-unionization efforts as run-of-the-mill business expenses.

“Corporations shouldn’t be interfering with workers’ right to organize. They certainly shouldn’t be able to write off anti-unionization campaigns as a business expense,” said Senator Casey. “I’m introducing the No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act to end the taxpayer subsidization of anti-union activity. Unions are a rising tide that lifts all boats; they don’t just help workers in them, they raise wages for all workers. It’s long past time we level the playing field and protect workers’ rights to organize.”

“Workers are using their power. They are securing historic victories as they unionize for better pay, better hours, and better working conditions. The wealthiest corporations in the country are pulling out all the stops in an effort to crush workers’ efforts to achieve better lives for them and their families. These corporations are resorting to the old union-busting playbook–anti-union trainings, advertising, and consultants. All of these union-busting activities can be written off as business expenses, so you’re getting a tax benefit for trampling on your workers’ rights. That shouldn’t happen.  Our bill is straightforward. It simply says you can’t continue to get a tax benefit for trying to crush your workers’ efforts to organize,” said Senator Wyden.

“American taxpayers certainly should not be expected to subsidize corporations’ anti-union campaigns but right now they are—and corporations absolutely should not be able to write their union-busting off as ordinary business expenses,” said Senator Murray. “Every worker should have the right to form and join a union to demand better and their fair share of the economic growth they drive—and our tax code shouldn’t reward companies that pay consultants hundreds of dollars an hour to dissuade workers from exercising their right to organize. Our bill will put an end to this ridiculous loophole, and I won’t stop here: I’ll keep fighting to pass the PRO Act to help protect every worker’s right to organize.”

“Corporations shouldn’t be rewarded for union busting. That’s why it’s time to change the current law that allows them to take a tax deduction for the money they spend on anti-labor activities. Our bill will ensure that companies don’t get tax breaks for spending money to influence the outcome of union elections or to interfere with workers’ right to form a union,” said Senator Van Hollen.

The No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act would end the taxpayer subsidization of anti-union activity by corporations. The bill would classify businesses’ interference in worker organization campaigns like political speech under the tax code and therefore not tax deductible. Activities denied a deduction would include both unlawful attempts to influence employees, and lawful activities that nonetheless should not be subsidized by taxpayers. These include violations of the National Labor Relations Act, so-called “captive audience meetings”—where employers hold mandatory meetings during work hours and pressure employees against joining a union or interrogate workers—and million-dollar anti-union advertising campaigns around union organization elections.

Along with Senators Casey, Wyden, Murray, Booker and Van Hollen, the bill is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Padilla (D-CA), Markey (D-MA), Baldwin (D-WI), Warren (D-MA), Reed (D-RI), Brown (D-OH), Cardin (D-MD), Klobuchar (D-MN), Gillibrand (D-NY), Sanders (I-VT), Whitehouse (D-RI), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Smith (D-MN), Blumenthal (D-CT) and Merkley (D-OR).

“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 put an end to it. Companies that engage in union busting shouldn't reap financial benefits, they should pay penalties for this anti-democratic behavior.”

“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, 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.”

“For decades, employers have used their power to steamroll and silence workers organizing for a seat at the table, which has resulted in stagnating wages and skyrocketing inequality. We applaud Senators Casey, Wyden, Murray, Van Hollen and Booker for working to pass the No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act, which would end federal tax subsidies for businesses’ anti-union activities,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “Taxpayers should not be picking up the tab for corporations who attempt to impede their workers’ freedoms.”

The No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act also establishes an IRS reporting requirement for employers who intervene in protected labor activities. Only a small portion of this activity is even reported to the Department of Labor currently, but it amounts to at least $340 million annually, according to a recent report.

Read more about the No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act here.