Republican candidates can win in November if they prioritize important issues. Chief among them are supporting the freelance economy and opposing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.
The GOP can appeal to disaffected independents and Democrats who feel voiceless without moderating their conservative beliefs. Here in Virginia, freelancers and their allies, alike, are making their voices heard by opposing bad bills.
If Republicans want to win, they should join the fight for freelancers now.
The Current Status of Freelancing in America
Freelancing is pro-family, pro-freedom, pro-free market — the very essence of conservatism.
Men and women who freelance better prioritize their family and business needs. Freedom and flexibility draw participants in. And we, self-described champions of liberty, can extol these values.
There are more unincorporated self-employed individuals today. 500,000 workers joined their ranks, bringing the total to 9.44 million.
Despite the fears associated with “The Great Resignation”—a phenomenon described as mass resignation from the workforce— there is a silver lining: 10 million may soon enter the freelance economy.
Decentralization of the workplace is inevitable. And it shouldn’t be shunned. Therefore, Republicans must be on the frontlines opposing policies that undermine the gig economy.
Where the PRO Act Stands Today
Democrats want to pass the PRO Act this year—either in Congress or by regulatory fiat through the Department of Labor (DOL).
Although billed as “pro-worker,” the PRO Act is actually “pro–labor union.” As I noted in a February 2021 Townhall column on the bill:
Among its many troubling components, two provisions stand out: repealing right-to-work laws for “fair share agreements” and implementing a national ABC test, borrowing from California’s disastrous AB5, to coerce independent contractors into employee arrangements.
If passed, the bill would upend longstanding labor law. It would also give corrupt, powerful unions an additional $3 billion per election cycle for political activities and lobbying.
A House version passed in March 2021 but it stalled in the U.S. Senate on account of three Democrat holdouts: Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), and Mark Warner (D-VA).
Democrats and Big Labor won’t be deterred until some or all aspects of the proposed bill are implemented.
Counter Regulation Changes from DOL
If the PRO Act remains stalled in Congress, the Biden administration will find a workaround. How? By enlisting its DOL to enact rules changes pertaining to worker status and employee-employer relationships.
And that will happen if David Weil, former Obama administration Wage & Hour Division administrator, returns to his old job.
In 2007, Dr. Weil expressed support for strangling private businesses by regulatory fiat. He wrote, “Regulatory systems provide the government with tools to change private behavior, and those tools are usually related to enforcement activities.”
The SBE Council noted his hatred of free enterprise, writing, “Dr. Weil has an extensive track record of hostility towards specific business models, industries, and companies that employ millions of Americans in every state. In his 2014 book “The Fissured Workplace,” as well as numerous academic writings, and public forums in coordination with labor unions, Dr. Weil has expanded on his ideology and belief that the DOL should take an aggressive and activist approach to enforcement, particularly against lead enterprises that do business with smaller firms.”
Americans for Tax Reform equally raised concerns about his minimum wage views, noting, “Weil supports doubling the federal minimum wage to $15/hour, a death blow to millions of American jobs and thousands of small businesses. A $15 minimum wage would drastically raise labor costs at a time when businesses are struggling just to keep the lights on thanks to government-mandated lockdowns. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, a $15 minimum wage could kill as many as 3.7 million American jobs.”
Talk about red flags. Even Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has privately raised concerns about Biden’s DOL pick.
The fight for freelancers will emerge as a top issue in 2022.
Freelancing is the last vestige of entrepreneurship. Flexible workers prefer to operate independently and with limited interference from the government.
If freelancing is further regulated, worker freedom will cease to exist.
Republicans cannot sleep on this issue. They must proactively work to protect this burgeoning workforce. And they can start right now.