Press Release

Rep. Cuellar Votes Against PRO Act Citing Need to Protect Local Jobs, Small Businesses, Right to Work

Washington | Charlotte Laracy, DC Press Secretary (202-226-1583); Alexis Torres, District Press Secretary (956-286-6007), February 6, 2020

Washington, D.C.—Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) voted against H.R. 2474, the “Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act”. The PRO Act provides a one-size fits all approach that will stifle innovation, take power from workers to union bosses, and further inserts the federal government into the private sector. 

“Throughout my entire career, I have been a champion for the working men and women of this country. As one of eight children born to migrant farm workers, I am committed to standing up for workers. Over the last two years, I have had a 100% rating by the National Education Association, a 79% rating from American Federation of Government Employees, an 80% rating from the Communications Workers of America, and an 80% rating from the National Treasury Employees Union,” said Congressman Cuellar. 

 “I agree with the goals of the PRO Act, but we have major philosophical differences on how to approach the economic problems we see today. The legislation eliminates all state Right-to-Work laws, including in Texas, which protect workers in more than half the country against being fired if they decline to pay union dues. This is not the right approach.” 

 “While well-intentioned, this legislation falls short in several areas, and the reality is that the 28th Congressional District of Texas will lose thousands of jobs if this bill becomes law. Specifically, in the area of franchising, the PRO Act effectively eliminates the opportunity for entrepreneurs to achieve the American dream by opening and operating a franchise business.”

“In my district there are over 1,000 franchise establishments that provide over 12,000 jobs. Therefore, I cannot in good conscience vote to put over 12,000 of my friends and neighbors out of work. My constituents sent me to Washington to champion their interests, not vote the party line.” 

“Furthermore, the economic impact of franchises is staggering: there are 733,000 franchised establishments in the Unites States, directly creating 7.6 million jobs and indirectly supports 13.3 million jobs that contribute $404.6 billion to the US GDP. That is why I submitted a bipartisan amendment with 12 co-sponsors that will protect franchises in my district, which play a key role in our economy. I offer realistic, common-sense economic solutions.”

“Rest assured I will continue to be a champion for the rights of workers everywhere while supporting policies that help my district's robust economy thrive. We need to find a balance between business and unions.”


Congressman Cuellar’s Submitted Amendment to the PRO Act

Specifically, the PRO Act would amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to codify the NLRB's harmful 2015 joint employer standard, which makes franchise brands liable for the actions of their franchisees.

This unnecessary liability plainly eliminates the incentive to grow a business through franchising. In recent years, the unclear joint employer standard has already cost the franchise business community $33.3 billion per year and has led to a 93% increase in joint employment litigation.

In TX-28 alone nearly 12,000 jobs and over 1,000 establishments exist today because of franchising. These small businesses pay $320 million in payroll taxes, contribute $857 million in economic output, and $491 million into the national GDP. Nationally, the economic impact of franchising is staggering: 733,000 establishments, 7.6 million jobs, and $404.6 billion of the US GDP. 

To protect these vital establishments, Congressman Cuellar’s amendment with 12 bipartisan co-sponsors would clarify that a brand’s efforts to preserve its trademark, to ensure the brand is uniform and consistent to the public, would not be classified as evidence of joint employment. Employment controls, such as hiring, firing, pay and scheduling would not be considered a protected trademark control.

This vital clarification will ensure that the PRO Act will not cripple the vast economic impact that franchising brings to the economy. A summary can be found here.