California’s new pro-union legislation has already proven to be disastrous for freelance workers and independent contractors, yet House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the Democrats are pushing similar legislation on the national level.
While the so-called PRO Act had no future with a Republican senate and President Donald Trump, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden just promised that he will sign it into law if he is elected president.
In a push to bolster his union supporters on Labor Day, Biden tweeted, “For years, President Trump and Republicans have waged a war on America’s labor unions. It will end on my watch. I’ll sign the PRO Act — making it easier for workers to organize and collectively bargain — and be the strongest labor president workers have ever had.”
Pro-union bill hurts small businesses
In 2019, California’s Democrat-controlled legislature passed Assembly Bill 5, that, for all intents and purposes, gutted the gig economy in the state starting on January 1, 2020. Pro-union Democrats marketed the bill as an effort to force large app-based companies like Uber and Lyft to hire their drivers as employees, but the job-killing legislation is effectively forcing freelancers and independent contractors in nearly every industry to either move out of state, find a new line of work or try to get hired as an employee if they wanted to keep their job.
The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act was pushed through the Democrat-controlled House in February by Speaker Pelosi on behalf of the AFL-CIO and other major labor unions, according to the California Globe at the time. Much like California’s AB5, on which it was modeled, the PRO Act would impose extreme limits on the way Americans choose to work.
The Economic Policy Institute’s Michael Saltsman put it best in the title of his Wall Street Journal op-ed last week: “Unions Seek to ‘Liberate’ Gig Workers From Flexibility.” He noted that in a pandemic, the flexibility of gig work is more needed than ever as Americans try to make ends meet.
Sadly, even before AB5 had gone into effect, thousands of freelance workers and independent contractors in California warned about the impact the bill would have on their careers and livelihoods, to no avail. After representatives of dozens of different freelance, gig, and independent industries engaged in lengthy discussions with the bill’s author, and after numerous businesses shuttered their doors or are leaving the state, Democrats still refused to repeal the bill. However, in a sure sign of a bad bill, numerous exemptions and carveouts for certain industries are now being considered and implemented.
The Post Millennial wondered in August if, in light of the changes being made to AB5, Biden would reconsider his support of the PRO Act — a question that was answered in the negative by Biden’s tweet on Monday.
Forced to unionize
Biden had already signaled his support of California’s AB5 — and by extension, Pelosi’s PRO Act. In May, the 77-year-old career politician tweeted that it was “unacceptable” that some businesses and workers were seeking exemptions from the law.
That prompted the National Right to Work Committee in June to write in opposition to Biden’s clear intention to bring about the “Californization” of national labor laws in favor of big labor unions. They noted that Pelosi’s PRO Act, far from “protecting” a right to organize, would in essence force Americans to organize and pay union dues if they wanted to continue working.
The committee noted that, according to Biden’s own campaign website at that time, the Democratic nominee not only expressed how he “strongly supports” the PRO Act but also detailed how he was willing to “go beyond the PRO Act” in terms of legislation and executive actions that would be favorable to labor unions.
Tens of millions of Americans work as freelancers, gig workers, or independent contractors — as many as 56.7 million, according to the California Globe. Under a Biden administration, many will no longer be allowed to choose the flexibility, independence, and tax benefits of being self-employed over becoming an employee. And more will just see their jobs disappear.