And that’s if you can even keep your job
California’s AB 5, a law that took effect on Jan 1 of this year, heavily restricts workers who want to be contractors rather than full employees. The impact of AB 5 was to disenfranchise workers around the state who lost paying work and an honest income. Self-employed Californians were unnecessarily restricted to empower outdated and unaccountable unions. The backlash was huge.
Therefore it should come as a surprise that the House of Representatives last week passed a similar law that would similarly harm workers around the country.
The PRO Act, passed almost entirely along party lines in the US House, and shows what this initiative is really about: taking power away from workers and giving it to antiquated unions. It requires that personal information be given over to unions. It denies states the right to protect their citizens from mandated union membership.
In essence the PRO Act decides for Americans what type of work is and is not allowed. Want to be a part-time plumber on Taskrabbit? The Pro Act says no. What about a wedding photographer who finds work via Thumbtack? Again the Pro Act denies your lifestyle choices.
We’ve already seen the ill effects of California’s CA AB 5 where truckers had to sue the state to get their jobs back and currently the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Press Photographers Association are trying to save their workers too.
If the Pro Act goes into effect, it even harms jobs like child therapy.
Two days a week, my neighbor, a child therapist, meets with children in need of help. By operating as a 1099 worker she avoids high overhead expenses and keeps costs down for her clients. She gets health care from her husband’s company, so she doesn’t need those extra costs. They have two small children and she wants the flexibility to choose when and how much she works.
Many child therapists operate as independent contractors. They rely on professional institutions to connect them with clients — much in the same way Thumbtack connects people and even how Lyft connects drivers and people needing a ride.
Her story is shared by workers around the country, whose livelihoods are threatened by the PRO Act.
My neighbor and thousands of other Americans would be denied the choice to be independent workers by the PRO Act which would force them into a formal employment arrangement. The result is that people like my neighbor no longer control their schedules.
Under the PRO Act many may need to exit the workforce entirely.
Businesses who need contractors not employees are too denied choice. The PRO Act requires newly designated “employers” to spend millions providing services they might not be able to afford. These new business costs mean less take-home pay for workers and a likely reduction in the workforce.
We need not speculate on the harms of the PRO Act as California’s AB 5 already provides evidence of the job loss that will result. Shortly before AB 5 took effect, Vox Media terminated over 200 freelance writers. Freelance musicians are out of a job too. Drivers, caregivers, and many more all lost jobs as a result of the California law. (Twitter is littered with these stories or you can read the compilation of stories).
Mayan complains that as “a translator and interpreter for over 30 years, [I] will no longer be allowed to speak for immigrants in the court system because of AB 5.”
Marsha extolls that “I lost my job of 12 years as a medical transcriptionist because of AB5. Many in this profession value the flexibility in hours and working from home more than employee status. Now I have no money at all.”
Kirk laments that “after 27 years in construction trucking, [I] own a home, raised 2 boys, own $250,000 worth of CARB LEGAL equipment. AB 5 will put me out of business!”
It’s hard to understand with all this evidence of real harm from California’s same approach to control hard working Americans why the House would pass the PRO Act. Even the California delegation — who should understand more than any other representatives how AB 5 isn’t working — all voted for it.
Hopefully the House Democrats voted out the PRO Act only to appease their base since they know the Senate would never support such a crushing burden on the American worker.
For decades the Democratic party was the party of the American worker. But it may not stay that way for long if they continue to obliterate Americans’ ability to control their own work through acts like the PRO Act.