May 12, 2022

Van Hollen, Casey, Wyden Introduce Bill to Crack Down on Corporate Union Busting

 Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in introducing theNo 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 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.


“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.


As a cosponsor of The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act – comprehensive legislation that would strengthen labor laws and protect workers’ ability to bargain for higher wages, better benefits, and safer workplaces – Senator Van Hollen has consistently and actively voiced his support for workers’ rights to organize to improve pay and working conditions, including at a Maryland Starbucks and Apple store. He also wrote to the Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, alongside his Senate colleagues, to cease efforts to undermine unionization campaigns occurring at the company’s locations, and instead support employee-led union efforts nationwide. In a Senate Budget Committee hearing on May 5, the Senator highlighted the wrongful termination of one of the workers leading protests about workplace safety at Amazon, in an exchange with Amazon Labor Union President Christian Smalls.


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 Van Hollen, Casey, and Wyden, the bill is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Murray (D-Wash.), Booker (D-N.J.),  Padilla (D-Calif.), Markey (D-Mass.), Baldwin (D-Wis.), Warren (D-Mass.), Reed (D-R.I.), Brown (D-Ohio), Cardin (D-Md.), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sanders (I-Vt.), Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Smith (D-Minn.), Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Merkley (D-Ore.).


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.