Construction jobs declined by 3,400 in the Phoenix metro area during the past year even as the sector added jobs in the rest of Arizona’s metro areas as the industry begins a “fragile” recovery, according to new data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. But association officials warned the recovery is being threatened by proposed federal legislation known as the PRO Act that would usher in a new era of labor uncertainty, undermine Arizona’s status as a right-to-work state and hurt worker privacy.
“The last thing Arizona and its workers need right now is for Washington to pass measures that will throw the economy into chaos,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer, during a visit to Phoenix today. “If passed, the PRO Act will usher in a new era of labor uncertainty and disruptions that will make it virtually impossible to predict when projects will be completed.”
Sandherr noted that between March 2020 and March 2021, construction employment grew by 100 jobs in Flagstaff; 500 jobs in Lake Havasu; 400 jobs in Prescott; 900 jobs in Sierra Vista-Douglas; 200 jobs in Tucson and 300 jobs in Yuma. But the fact that Phoenix construction fell by 3,400 during the same time frame shows the state’s recovery is “fragile and far from certain.”
The construction official said that the PRO Act, which passed in the House earlier this year, poses a significant threat to the state’s recovery. He noted that the bill will effectively repeal Arizona’s status as a right-to-work state. It also undermines worker privacy by forcing employers to hand over personal information about every employee to union organizers, including home addresses and shift schedules.
The measure also includes provisions that deny workers the absolute right to a secret ballot during unionizing votes. Sandherr added that the proposal “weaponizes” strikes and work slowdowns and ends the decades-long ban on secondary boycotts. As a result, he said any union can strike against any employer, for any reason, without any prior notice.
“This measure will leave many workers in Arizona and across the country without any earnings because of union disputes where they do not stand to benefit,” Sandherr noted. He added that Majority Leader Schumer has promised to bring the PRO Act up for a vote in the Senate once it has 50 sponsors. Today it has 47 sponsors, all Democrats. The only three Democratic Senators who have not signed on to support the measure are Virginia’s Mark Warner and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly.
Sandherr noted that the association’s two statewide chapters, the Arizona Chapter AGC and the Arizona Builders Alliance, are bringing together employers from across the state to show their support for Arizona’s two senators and to push back against the PRO Act. He also announced the launch of a new statewide digital advertising campaign, supported by both chapters, to educate the public about the many dangers of the bill.
“Our goal is to make sure Arizona and the country continue to add jobs and thrive,” Sandherr said. “The best way to do that is to keep the dangerous PRO Act from becoming law.”