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The House passed the PRO Act. What does that mean for independent contractors?

Mar 10, 2021 by AFP

Does government have the right to tell Americans how they should work, with whom they can do business, and what their hours ought to be?

Some lawmakers believe so. On Tuesday the House passed the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, or the PRO Act, a bill that would place additional government roadblocks between Americans and their ability to earn a living.

The PRO Act would, among other things:

  • Attempt to push most independent contractors, gig workers, and freelancers out of their work and force them into traditional employment arrangements under the National Labor Relations Act.
  • Forbid businesses from hiring many kinds of independent contractors.
  • Eliminate the right-to-work laws in 27 states, including those established in state constitutions.
  • Force employers to hand over the personal information of their employees — including email addresses and cell phone numbers — to union organizers.

The PRO Act includes a provision similar to legislation California passed in late 2019, Assembly Bill 5, which was promoted as a measure to protect independent contractors by reclassifying them as employees. It didn’t work.

AB 5 led to layoffs of countless workers before the holidays. It continues to inflict a massive toll on the state’s independent contractors, even with subsequent carveouts and exemptions for industries hit hardest.

The PRO Act would produce a similar result nationwide. The bill’s ABC test — a tool the National Labor Relations Board would use to determine which independent contractors would be reclassified — would force most of these workers out of their flexible arrangements, even if they could not support a traditional employment schedule.

The PRO Act would hurt independent contractors and the businesses that rely on them. The Senate should reject this bill.

Tell lawmakers to reject the PRO Act and other unfair restrictions on independent contracting. And join the Flex Your Independence campaign to celebrate and support independent contractors and protect these workers from harmful regulation.