By now you’ve probably heard at least a little something about California’s shocking new “freelancer” bill that went into effect January 1, 2020. 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”. The bill – sponsored by a defiantLorena Gonzalez (D-80) – was aimed at getting to Uber and Lyft, essentially forcing them to unionize. It is no accident well over 35% of Gonzalez’ (reported) campaign donations come from California unions. With a Democrat supermajority in Sacramento and a feckless state GOP, there was almost no opposition. The bill sailed through and against the hopes of independent workers across the state Governor Newsom signed it into law.
Independent contractors across the nation could soon be suffering the same fate as their California counterparts. A federal version has passed through committee and now sits in the House of Representatives waiting for a floor vote. This is not a drill. This is real.
H.R.2474 – benignly titled ‘The PRO Act’ was originally drafted in May of 2019 as a union-strengthening bill. In its infancy it had nothing to do with independent contractors and everything to do with thwarting the Janus decision. On its face the bill is a complete disaster and could have chilling repercussions for employers and small-business, including stripping employers of their ability to stay open during union strikes. If the only thing this bill pertained to were mediation and strike rules, it would be terrifying enough. We should all be amazed that the business community and Congress have allowed this to fly under the radar since last May.
But this is government and with government there is never enough. Somewhere between September of 2019 and December of 2019 someone added an amendment to the behemoth employer-rights killer that was a simple copy and paste of California’s AB5. In fact, it is so awkwardly jammed into the text that it can be nothing other than a literal copy and paste.
Here is the original version drafted in May:
And here is the December amended version:
Here is the text from California’s AB5:
You may be reading this and thinking, “This will never happen anyway. It’ll get killed in the Senate and we’ll all go on with our lives” but I caution this type of dismissal. Even the most politically astute here in California didn’t really believe this bill would be signed and enacted. Passed – yes, because everything gets passed here. There are no guardrails in California anymore. But many of us sincerely believed the legal challenges it would pose would cause Newsom to reject it. As bad a governor as Jerry Brown was, he actually vetoed a lot of very stupid legislation. He’s a lawyer and he understood when something was going to gum up the legal system. Newsom is a straight narcissist and ideologue. Not only did he sign the bill with glee, he embedded over $20 million into the 2020 budget for “enforcement”.
Your Congress isn’t that much different. They also have a hunger for donations and there are no bigger campaign donors across the board than unions. Why do you think you’re only just now hearing about this? You’d think your representatives would be very concerned about the codified Death Blow to the gig economy. That’s a lot of money and freedom out the window, not to mention a direct violation of our constitutional right of association.
I suspect one reason House Democrats have been quiet is that they are hoping they can pass this bill before 2020 elections, win the Senate and then just vote on it once the pesky opposition is gone.
This should terrify you.
Congress is notorious for their gridlock, and yet this bill was drafted in May, out of committee by September and amended by December. That is lightening speed when it comes to Capitol Hill. Yes, it still needs a final vote.
A letter from sponsoring Democrats has already been signed and is sitting on Nancy Pelosi’s desk right now. The date? January 9, 2020. This bill is on your doorstep and no one has said a word. (click here for pdf version with signatures)
If you’re not skeptical of unions like me and feel uncomfortable about “union busting” language conservatives like me use sometimes, don’t believe me. Call your representative and ask for yourself…or just read the bill. Regardless of your politics, if you have enjoyed the freedom of controlling your own work hours, products and business relationships you will be affected by this. Don’t let politics get in the way of your paycheck or the freedom to earn it. If this bill passes into law it will utterly cripple the “gig economy”. The internet has been the great equalizer when it comes to opportunity and employment. Areas that were traditionally limited to a certain class, education level or geographic location have become open to everyone. There is no greater tool for lifting the “little guy” than the internet. No one should be excited about losing something that has helped so many poor and disadvantaged citizens lift themselves to new heights and opportunities.
President Trump obviously has lots of big things to worry about right now, but with reelection coming up one would think he and his people would be out there reminding voters every day about this bill and what it will do to their livelihoods if the Democrats recapture the senate and the White House. If I were advising him I’d already have the ads cut.
While we wait to see if/when Trump will address this, you can have your say by contacting your congressional representative and telling him or her that you know this bill is out there and you do not support it. Furthermore, politely remind whomever you speak to that your vote should not be counted on unless you can count on their support for your freedoms.
H.R.2474 is a monster. It will tear the economy apart. We are on the brink of losing a freedom that has so far transformed the economic freedoms of this nation. Your representatives may be anointed as those who watch over our rights and interests, but who watches the watchers?
That person would be you.