On April 19th, the House Committee on Education & the Workforce held a hearing, “Examining Biden’s War on Independent Contractors.”
The Workforce Protections Subcommittee, chaired by freelance advocate and Congressman Kevin Kiley (R-CA), invited six witnesses—including IWF Visiting Fellow and Freelancers Against California Assembly Bill 5 co-founder Karen Anderson—to discuss the state of independent contracting and threats to this burgeoning workforce.
Four of the six witnesses shared their concerns about AB5 going national through Department of Labor rulemaking or passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act in Congress. They also shared freelancer stories and spoke about economic trends favoring flexible work arrangements. Alternatively, the other two panelists claimed worker classification is rampant and dismissed the concerns of millions of freelancers who wish to remain independent of the traditional workforce.
“The current Administration has launched a multi-pronged assault on the right to earn a living in America,” subcommittee Chair Kiley said. “The livelihoods of millions of Americans are at risk.”
Karen explained how AB5 propelled her to get involved and protect freelancer livelihoods:
When I read in the news on September 18, 2019 that AB5 with its strict ABC test was signed into law, I knew immediately it was an existential threat to my career. Shortly thereafter, I launched a public Facebook group called Freelancers Against AB5 so that I could connect with professionals outside of my own sector to find out how AB5 was affecting everyone in general—be it golf caddies, nurse practitioners, graphic designers, videographers, theater groups, and others who might see my page and want to share their stories.
Little did I know that I would soon have a front-row seat to hundreds and hundreds of negative stories pouring into my group from across all demographics, income levels, political affiliations, and the vast swath of professions, trades, non-profits and sectors.
She also warned that California is a cautionary tale about AB5 and the ABC test.
And while the House of Representatives doesn’t handle cabinet appointments, the committee also highlighted concerns about Labor Secretary nominee Julie Su—an architect of AB5 and Biden’s nominee to succeed Marty Walsh. Su is facing a difficult path to confirmation due to her anti-freelancer record in California.
There are approximately 65 million Americans participating in freelancing today on a full-time, part-time, or occasional basis. Another report claims this workforce may actually boast upwards of 73.3 million members. Either way, flexible work is here to stay.
2023 has also been declared as the “year of the side hustle” with 73% of American workers indicating they’ll engage in some contract work this year. They cite greater flexibility and freedom that comes with non-traditional work arrangements.
To learn more about independent contracting, go HERE.