Dems introduce legislation to kill the gig economy, destroy millions of jobs
Democrats and their labor union big-money donors hate the gig economy, where people work as independent contractors, doing as much or as little work as they wish, setting their own hours, providing their own workspace and equipment, and getting paid in full directly with no fringe benefits. There are roughly 10.6 million independent contractors in the U.S. today, and labor unions want them changed into prospects for unionization by forcing them and their employers to revert to full-time employee status, with less flexibility, much higher overhead, and non-cash compensation costs.
California, a one-party state dominated by Democrats, tried to force such change on its own workforce by passing a similar bill, A.B. 5, with disastrous results in term of public revulsion:
California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), popularly known as the "gig worker bill," is a piece of legislation that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, and required companies that hire independent contractors to reclassify them as employees, with some exceptions. AB5 was designed to regulate companies that hire gig workers in large numbers, such as Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash.
Following controversy over the bill, the Calif. legislature passed Assembly Bill 2257 in Sept. 2020, which exempts a long list of job categories from AB5. On Nov. 3, 2020 California voters approved Proposition 22, an initiative backed by Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash that legally designates drivers for app-based ride-hailing and delivery apps as independent contractors.
Kate Conger reported the electoral repudiation in the New York Times:
California voters carried Uber and Lyft to victory, overwhelmingly approving Proposition 22, a ballot measure that allows gig economy companies to continue treating drivers as independent contractors. (snip)
In voting to support Uber and Lyft, Californians rejected the principles outlined in a 2018 State Supreme Court ruling and enshrined in a 2019 state law that said workers who performed tasks within a company's regular business — and were controlled by the company and did not operate their own firms — must be treated as employees. Under Prop. 22, gig workers are exempted from these rules and can continue to work independently.
The final results showed a margin of over 17% in favor of protecting independent contractors — this in a state that is as deep blue as any in the country.
But congressional Democrats don't seem to care what even their own voters want, when it comes to doing the bidding of their biggest donors and destroying jobs that allow people a lot of leeway in how, when, and where they work.
Today, top @HouseDemocrats & @SenateDems introduced the #PROAct, a bold proposal that protects and strengthens the basic right of American workers to stand together and negotiate for higher wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions.https://t.co/z55zjlUZ9Q— Committee on Education & Labor (@EdLaborCmte) February 4, 2021
Brad Polumbo explains the PROAct:
The legislation at the core of their agenda is the PRO Act, which Democrats just re-introduced with sponsors including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer. Among many other things, the bill would severely restrict the legal definition of independent contractors in a way that would largely end the gig economy as we know it. (snip)
"The men and women of labor are the backbone of our economy and the foundation of our strength," Pelosi said. "With American workers seeing their lives and livelihoods devastated by the ongoing pandemic and economic crisis, the reintroduction of the PRO Act is more important than ever.
"I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation to put more money in the pockets of hard-working Americans, creating a foundation that provides livable wages to our families," Schumer added.
There is no serious argument to make that the bill would not eliminate millions of jobs that people currently work in as a matter of personal choice. Polumbo writes:
[J]obs like Uber drivers, Doordash drivers, Instacart grocery deliverers, and more could not exist as we know them. (snip) Some of these workers might not be affected by the law and some others may get hired on as full-time as a result. But there's little doubt that millions more would find themselves unemployed.
For example, Uber alone employs more than 1 million drivers in the US. It's nearly certain they would all lose their jobs under the PRO Act, because Uber already runs a loss, not a profit, and adding an independent contractor as a full staff member counts roughly $3,625 per driver. Basic math tells you that most of these workers would end up being let go; Uber could even go under. After all, the California legislation nearly forced Uber and Lyft to shut down operations in the Golden State altogether until a last-minute ballot referendum modified the law.
Uber is just one company and one example. But freelance workers such as journalists, photographers, florists, musicians and more all lost work in California under legislation similar to the PRO Act.
"Transcription allowed me to stay at home, be my own boss, and control my workflow and whom I work with," 72-year-old transcriptionist Dori Lehner told the Independent Women's Forum. "I only have one direct client now, and I only get work when they have it. My income has dropped down to a quarter of what it was before AB5."
Watching the actions of Democrats in the last year, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that they find jobs distasteful, something to be minimized. Blue-state governors locked down their states with little or no benefit in stopping the spread of the coronavirus, but destroying millions of businesses and jobs. Upon taking office, Joe Biden shut down the Keystone Pipeline with no environmental benefits at all, since alternative transportation by rail emits far more CO2 and genuine pollutants like CO, while causing more spills due to transport accidents. The main effect was to throw workers out of their jobs, and cause diminished revenue and fewer jobs in the local industries serving them.
This is insanity. It's almost as if Democrats don't expect to be held accountable by voters in elections anymore...