The U.S. House of Representatives voted 225-206 on Tuesday to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, a bill that would fundamentally transform the way that Americans are allowed to work by forcing employees to pay union dues and sharply limiting who is able to be hired as an independent contractor, or a freelancer.
Supporters of the “ABC test” provision of the PRO Act, which narrowly defines which workers should be classified as independent contractors, argue the measure is necessary to protect freelance workers from being exploited by employers who are “misclassifying” them as independent contractors to avoid paying them benefits.
By requiring that businesses impose the ABC test to determine if someone is an employee, the PRO Act would reclassify millions of independent contractors as employees, forcing businesses to hire them in a traditional role with them benefits—or not to hire them at all.
While advocates of the PRO Act sell the legislation as a way to “protect workers,” the measure begs a fundamental question: Do independent contractors workers want to be reclassified as traditional employees?
Mostly false or misleading. Significant errors or omissions. Mostly make believe.
It is wrong to assume that all independent contractors, or freelancer workers, want to work as traditional W-2 employees.
1 in 5 jobs in America are held by an independent contractor, and according to “Freelancing in America” the most comprehensive measure of the independent workforce, nearly 75 percent of contractors are working independently by choice. 76 percent said they feel more stimulated by the freelance work that they do compared to the work in a traditional job, and 70 percent said “working as a freelancer has been less stressful than working in a traditional job. While a small minority of freelance workers may desire the benefits a traditional job offers, more than half of those polled said that no amount of money would get them to take a traditional job.
The results from this poll, which surveyed more than 6,000 U.S. workers, are supported by a number of other studies:
- A poll commissioned by The Freelancer found 75 percent of independent workers freelance because they prefer it over a full-time job, and 90 percent said that California’s AB5’s limits, which are replicated in the PRO Act, could negatively affect their livelihoods.
- An August 2018 Gallup poll found 64 percent of gig workers say they are doing their preferred type of work.
- An MBO poll found in 2019, only 19 percent of full-time independents are reluctant.
- In a poll commissioned last year by Lyft, 71 percent of the independent contractors surveyed said the freedom of being an independent contractor outweighs the benefits of being an employee.
Considering the large majority of freelance workers who report they’re happy doing independent work, it is inaccurate and misguided to bill the PRO Act as a way to “protect” freelance workers from exploitation. In reality, the PRO Act would make it more difficult for employees to work as they chose and put the nation’s estimated 59 million freelancers at risk of being displaced.
For those who desire some of the benefits offered through traditional employment, options exist. Americans for Prosperity aggregated some of the current marketplace options that independent contractors can pursue. These include health care plans, retirement funds, life insurance options and more.
When California enacted a similar version of the PRO Act last year, thousands of independent contractors lost work as employers couldn’t afford to hire freelance workers full-time. The measure was so devastating to the state’s gig economy, a host of influential professions such as writers, musicians and producers successfully lobbied for exemptions from the jobs-killing nightmare, while thousands were stuck trying to operate under the unworkable law.
Independent Women’s Forum highlighted many of their stories of losing flexibility, income, and choice. It’s a shame that under the false pretense of “protecting workers,” politicians want to bring this harmful policy nationwide.