It always seems to be something to kill jobs with Democrats, right?
In the 2020 election, 63% of California voters backed President Biden. On the same ballot, those voters essentially repealed a job-killing state law that Biden and Democrats now want to impose on a national level in the form of the PRO Act.
That California law, A.B. 5, attempted to force businesses that use contract and freelance workers into hiring them with employee benefits. Instead, it predictably caused freelance work to dry up throughout the state. News conglomerates cut loose their California-based freelancers. A variety of independent contractors, such as truck drivers, professional service providers, and interpreters, suddenly faced financial ruin.
Legislators were forced to carve out multiple exceptions to their ill-considered law in a last-ditch effort to save it, but even that wasn’t enough. In the end, Uber and Lyft, the iconic ride-share applications that the law had originally targeted, came within a hair’s breadth of shutting down all service in California. A judge stepped in and blocked the law just in time. Finally, voters approved a ballot proposition exempting almost everyone from A.B. 5, and although its ill effects linger on for some, this destructive experiment in regulating work appeared to be over.
Unfortunately, Democrats have failed to learn from this mistake. They now want to pass the PRO Act, which, among other things, would codify the same job- and income-destroying rules of A.B. 5 that even Californians couldn’t stand.
The driving force behind this attempt to turn back the clock on employment is Big Labor unions, which cling to this as one more measure designed to delay their total obsolescence. For one thing, they favor the PRO Act because it would eliminate 27 states’ right-to-work laws. This is obviously a nonstarter. Right-to-work laws leave it to workers whether they want to join and pay dues to a union, a choice that should be a fundamental right.
As usual, the only way to pass it is to nuke the filibuster, which a few Democrats, such as Joe Manchin, realize not that it could boomerang on them, but will boomerang on them at some point. If it was good legislation there would be no need for a filibuster, because both parties would have enough votes. Instead, Democrats want to try and prop up the pro-Dem unions who are in bed with the Democrats, which would kill lots of those contract and freelance jobs.
In the last decade, smartphone applications have expanded the availability of independent and flexible freelance work to the average person. As a result, 36% of workers in the United States (and 42% of workers under age 34) were already deriving at least some income from the gig economy as of 2019. They are participating in such activities as ride-sharing, car-sharing, house-sharing, moving, delivery, scooter-charging, online tutoring, professional tasking, craft-making, etc. The list of opportunities is endless and evinces a creativity in the nation’s workforce that has probably been suppressed by the old 9-to-5 for decades.
These trends have probably only become more favorable to freelancing during the pandemic. Indeed, part-time side hustles have likely become full-time lifelines for many families.
According to one study, freelance workers report feeling healthier (68%) and happier (78%) outside of traditional employment. Another study found that more than 50% of them believe themselves more financially secure than they would be with traditional employers, and a third study found that 51% of freelancers say they would not return to regular employment for any amount of money.
This is very bad for unions, hence, bad for Democrats. If this somehow became law it would face massive numbers of lawsuits, starting with the federal government taking powers that the Constitution does not grant them. No one should be surprised that Democrats want to erase state and individual rights and take them for the central government.
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