In the digital age, when less traditional businesses like Uber and Lyft are on the rise, President Biden has supported an “extreme labor law” that could jeopardize the livelihood of more than 57 million Americans by imposing potential constraints on freelancer jobs.
“The Administration strongly encourages the House to pass [the PRO Act] and looks forward to working with the Congress to enact this critical legislation that safeguards workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively,” the White House said in a statement on Monday.
In the statement, The White House said that the PRO Act would improve our democracy and foster workplace integrity.
The PRO Act, recently reintroduced by House Democrats, would, among other things, make certain traditional types of independent contractors—or freelance—agreements illegal, according to reports.
However, critics pointed out that, rather than encouraging workplace integrity, the new law would rob millions of people of their livelihood.
“It purports to stop workers from being “misclassified” as freelancers to force companies to hire them full-time. But the PRO Act’s redefinition of a freelance worker is so narrow that a worker can only provide a company with a freelance service that is outside its normal purview,” according to The Washington Examiner.
“Support for labor” by destroying every freelancer’s job https://t.co/Bn5O6TDOzS
— Brad Polumbo 🇺🇸⚽️ 🏳️🌈 (@brad_polumbo) March 8, 2021
Since Uber is a transportation company, it cannot employ drivers as freelancers, but it does hire janitors.
“Essentially, flexible freelance jobs such as Uber drivers or part-time newspaper columnists would be illegal in their current forms,” it added.
According to Forbes, “more than 70% of 1099-M gig staff” claim they work independently because they want to, not because they can’t find a 9-to-5 job.
California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 22, a ballot measure that allows gig economy companies like Uber and Lyft to keep treating drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. The victory could help remake U.S. labor laws. https://t.co/ea6QLE57fB
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 4, 2020
“Biden claims this is a pro-labor reform, but polling consistently shows that actual freelancers don’t support or want the PRO Act … the president is really just doing the bidding of labor union officials who want to outlaw competition to their traditional business model,” according to The Washington Examiner.
The House approves
The sweeping labor bill, known as “The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act,” was passed by the Democratic-led House of Representatives with a 225-206 vote on Tuesday night.
Breaking: The House just passed the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, the most significant expansion of labor rights since the New Deal.
The vote was 225 to 206. Five Republicans joined Democrats in favor of the bill.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 10, 2021
The PRO Act, if passed, would be one of the most significant improvements to U.S. labor law in decades.
According to the report, the most critical change will be to encourage employees to circumvent right-to-work rules currently in effect in 27 states (plus Guam). The PRO Act will encourage employers and employees to enter into an arrangement that allows unions to receive fair-share payments to offset collective bargaining and contract administration costs.
Following the bill’s passage, Democratic Vice President Joe Biden took to Twitter to urge the Senate to do the same.
Biden tweeted, “I believe every worker deserves a free and fair choice to join a union—and the PRO Act will bring us closer to that reality. I urge Congress to send it to my desk so we can summon a new wave of worker power and create an economy that works for everyone.”
I believe every worker deserves a free and fair choice to join a union — and the PRO Act will bring us closer to that reality. I urge Congress to send it to my desk so we can summon a new wave of worker power and create an economy that works for everyone.
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 9, 2021