A companion to California’s anti-freelancing bill, AB5, is going national, as my colleague Kira Davis covered previously. H.R. 2474, the “Protecting the Right to Organize Act,” was amended this fall to cut-and-paste AB5’s language into the bill.
Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) is sweeping and vague but basically it redefines the relationship between employers and employees, effectively ending independent contract work and killing the “gig economy.”
For those of you outside of California, the phrase “effectively ending independent contract work” should be given its broadest possible interpretation. The bill’s author admitted as much in a Twitter exchange Saturday:
— Repeal AB5; Kill HR 2474 (@RealKiraDavis) January 18, 2020
She was asked:
Can a caterer hire servers, hosts, hostesses, bartenders, etc., on an event-by-event basis without them being incorporated, sole proprietors, or LLC’s and treat the temporary staff like IC’s?
(If you’ve been following this issue and are baffled by Gonzalez’s continued public misunderstanding of what a sole proprietor is, don’t be. She’s just that dumb.)
Asm. Gonzalez’s response:
No. Neither can temp agencies.
So temp agencies will now be fighting for their lives, too. Is it becoming clear just how invasive and devastating the California bill is? The national version is the “…and there’s more!” version.
Why would Dems (and two Republicans*) want to do this? A January 9, 2020 letter signed by 76 House members, urging Nancy Pelosi to bring the bill to the floor, blatantly states that it’s to boost union membership.
“The PRO Act is bold, comprehensive legislation to strengthen unions and the American workforce…
“Special interest-funded attacks on labor laws have slashed union membership from 33 percent of the national workforce in 1956 to 10 percent in 2018.”
And now, after the landmark Janus ruling, the decline in union membership is accelerating.
In their letter, legislators list the following “benefits” (emphasis added):
- Protect union elections from employer interference
- Require employers to negotiate with newly elected unions
- Ensure employees can’t be misclassified as supervisors or independent contractors
- Invalidate state “right-to-work-for-less” laws
- Stiffen penalties for violations of workers’ rights
They want to do away with the right to work, call it the “right to organize,” and they’re not even trying to hide it.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is on record as being against the bill, which is a bonus since the California Chamber of Commerce tucked tail on AB5. This could be because HR 2474 goes so much further in doing away with right-to-work laws and laws preventing abusive, bullying union tactics than AB5 did.
Back in May 2019 the US Chamber wrote a letter to Congress outlining the bill’s terrifying consequences:
H.R. 2474 would repeal the section of the Taft-Hartley Act allowing [right-to-work] laws, invalidating all states’ right-to-work laws currently in place.
This bill would also effectively repeal the Taft-Hartley Act, labor law reforms enacted in 1947 to rein in some of the most abusive union organizing tactics of that era. H.R. 2474 would once again allow unions to engage in secondary boycotts and picketing, meaning that they could target any employer doing business with a targeted company even if those employers have no connection with the union. This would allow for the disruption of entire segments of the economy.
Moreover, under this legislation a secret ballot election where the employees chose not to be represented by a union could be overturned if enough employees signed cards saying they supported that union.
Despite the Chamber pointing out the negative consequences of the bill, 218 House members co-sponsored it. Republicans co-sponsoring are Christopher Smith of New Jersey and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.
Californians never thought AB5 would be passed and implemented, yet here we are. Don’t allow the same thing to happen on a national level. Raise hell with your representative today.