ICYMI: Steube Joint Op-Ed in Orlando Sentinel: Democrats’ PRO Act Threatens Florida’s Economy
ORLANDO, FLA.—U.S. Representative Greg Steube (R-Fla.) penned an op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel, warning of the economic risks posed by the Democrats’ Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.
“The PRO Act is a partisan grab bag designed to benefit politically connected groups at the expense of many Americans simply trying to provide for themselves and their families,” Steube wrote.
“The bill would jeopardize and sometimes even outlaw most forms of independent contracting, gig work, freelancing, and franchising under the National Labor Relations Act. It would employ an ‘ABC’ test, a tool regulators have often used to reclassify those with flexible work arrangements, to place them in traditional employment, possibly under union control,” he continued.
“The Act would block tens of millions of Americans who work as independent contractors, many of whom operate their own businesses, from earning a living. But some of the bill’s supporters hope that employers will simply place those workers on payroll and then in a union,” he added.
Read Steube’s full op-ed here or below.
PRO Act would jeopardize gig work, independent contractors | Commentary
By Rep. Greg Steube and Skylar Zander
March 4, 2021
After nearly a year of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions are finally waning across the nation, as they have been in freedom loving Florida for months. Employment is on the upswing, many of our children are returning to school, and our state and national vaccination programs are making inroads toward herd immunity.
We have more work to do, of course, to fully return to pre-COVID economic numbers. Therefore, lawmakers should now be drawing up plans focused on helping Americans return to work or, at the very least, refrain from creating additional barriers that could fumble our recovery.
Some lawmakers, unfortunately, are using a different playbook direct from their union boss coaches.
Congress is now considering a new version of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, or the PRO Act. While the bill has been rejected each year it has been introduced, the PRO Act now has a greater chance at passage, with a Democratic Congress and a Democratic president who has expressed support for this legislation.
That would be disastrous for our recovery and our country. The PRO Act is a partisan grab bag designed to benefit politically connected groups at the expense of many Americans simply trying to provide for themselves and their families.
The bill would jeopardize and sometimes even outlaw most forms of independent contracting, gig work, freelancing, and franchising under the National Labor Relations Act. It would employ an “ABC” test, a tool regulators have often used to reclassify those with flexible work arrangements, to place them in traditional employment, possibly under union control.
It is no surprise that this heavy-handed approach would be contrary to the wishes of these flexible workers, nearly 80 percent of whom prefer the arrangement they have to the one some lawmakers claim they need.
PRO Act advocates contend that independent workers are being exploited by their clients and that the proper remedy is to invalidate those relationships entirely. Some advocates say they believe politicians and unions know better than the actual workers and their expertise as it relates to their own employment.
The Act would block tens of millions of Americans who work as independent contractors, many of whom operate their own businesses, from earning a living. But some of the bill’s supporters hope that employers will simply place those workers on payroll and then in a union.
Not surprisingly, California tried the exact same strategy in 2019 with Assembly Bill 5. The law reclassified independent contractors in countless professions, including journalism, photography, construction, ridesharing, dentistry, environmental engineering, and teaching. And not surprisingly, it didn’t work.
Vox Media, for example, was forced to cut 200 of its California-based freelance writers. The company could afford to hire only 20 of them, with some working part-time.
A similar story played out across the state. Countless independent contractors lost work, but their clients were often unable to place them on payroll. The fallout was particularly disastrous for women, who often rely on the flexibility of freelancing to support their families.
Lawmakers should think twice before attempting to replicate California’s mistakes at the national level. Expanding worker freedom, not limiting it, is the best way to improve outcomes for millions of American workers.
Even more offensive, the PRO Act would invalidate right-to-work laws in 27 states, including Florida’s, which is enshrined in our state constitution.
Americans, now more than ever, cannot afford to be saddled with these job-killing regulations. They need solutions that recognize the reality of innovative work arrangements in the 21st century and the freedom to make those decisions for themselves.
Fortunately, lawmakers have many good options in their playbook. They could pass legislation making it easier for businesses that work with independent contractors to offer them voluntary benefits, something often restricted by government regulation. They could also enact reforms that would help these workers access benefits outside of traditional employment.
Perhaps the best thing they could do to further recovery is focus on expanding access to pandemic vaccines, therapeutics and rapid tests, which would help more Americans get back to work as quickly and safely as possible.
But Congress must again reject the PRO Act. We cannot afford to fumble during our recovery. Americans are counting on Congress to drive the ball forward.
Rep. Greg Steube, a Republican, represents Florida’s 17th congressional district. Skylar Zander is state director of Americans for Prosperity-Florida, a conservative advocacy group.