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Congressman Norcross Introduces Bill to End Tax Breaks for Companies Engaged in Union Busting

Helen Ireland
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The New Jersey State AFL-CIO strongly supports Congressman Norcross' recently introduced bill to end tax breaks for companies that engage in "union busting," or interventions to prevent workers from exercising their rights to organize a union. 

Specifically, the bill would classify anti-union campaigns as political speech under the tax code and require that companies report such campaigns to the IRS. Currently, when a business attempts to prevent its workers from unionizing, it can write off any expenses it incurs as regular business expenses. These write-offs put taxpayers on the hook, effectively subsidizing union busting as a business practice, even when these practices violate the National Labor Relations Act, which encourages collective bargaining and protects worker rights to the freedom of association. 

As workers around the country are organizing at an unprecedented rate, companies are spending an estimated $340 million per year to discourage them from unionizing. These campaigns can include mandatory meetings during work hours aimed at persuading employees not to join a union, hiring firms that specialize in union busting campaigns to provide strategic advice and communications, threatening to withhold benefits from employees who support unionizing, and closing workplaces that employers believe would support  the formation of a union or have voted to unionize. This bill would end public subsidies for anti-union campaigns that lead to depressed wages, reduced benefits and make our workplaces less safe.  

“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.”

New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech said, "We applaud Congressman Norcross' effort in introducing this bill, and would like to thank the members of our state congressional delegation who joined him as sponsors. Representative Norcross' leadership is further evidence that when we elect union members and people who share the values of working families to represent us in government, they fight for our priorities. Congressman Norcross is a union member, and a graduate of our Labor Candidates School, which provides unparalleled campaign training to union members seeking public office."

"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.”