Independent contractors

I Don't Want To Be Anybody's Employee

The push to reclassify independent contractors is harming many of the workers it's supposed to help.

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Linda Greenstein and Joseph Lagana looked pained. The two New Jersey legislators knew their seats on the Labor Committee existed at the pleasure of the state Senate's president, Steve Sweeney, who has a habit of removing his fellow Democrats from powerful positions if he doesn't like their votes. Greenstein and Lagana had one job on December 5, 2019: back a bill that Sweeney had sponsored. And they did that job. But when the moment came to cast their votes and move the bill out of committee, each came close to apologizing.

The bill, which would have reclassified many independent contractors as traditional salaried employees, was promoted as a way to protect low-wage workers whose companies were cheating them out of salaries and benefits. But Greenstein and Lagana had just spent four hours listening to testimony from working mothers, senior citizens, African Americans, Hispanics, and suburban women—key parts of their party's base—who said the legislation would instead destroy their chosen careers. The standing-room-only crowd that had come to testify against the bill included teachers, writers, bakers, lawyers, musicians, photographers, and truck drivers. It also included me: The bill threatened the stream of freelance writing and editing income I'd spent the past 17 years building.

"We heard an amazing—what I consider an amazing—amount of opposition," Greenstein told the crowd, adding that the bill was the most confusing she has encountered in her two decades in the New Jersey Legislature. She ultimately voted yes, but she acknowledged for the public record that the legislation needed work: "I think that somebody used the term 'unintended consequences,' and it may be that that's what's going on here."

State and federal lawmakers across America need to understand what those blue-state Democrats learned that day—and the Democratic Party needs to amend its labor platform accordingly. The debate we were having in New Jersey shortly before COVID-19 struck will be of critical importance for the entire American economy if we intend to climb out of the post-pandemic economic wreckage.

The Democratic Party had been planning to roll out bills like this across the country, hoping to compel companies to hire more people as employees with benefits instead of as independent contractors who get cash-only pay. The push started in California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom signed its version of the legislation—A.B. 5—into law in September 2019. Similar legislation was introduced around the same time in New Jersey and New York. On the federal level, language along the same lines was added to the proposed Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.

But the rollout didn't go as planned. When A.B. 5 took effect in California on January 1, we didn't see hundreds of companies convert independent contractors into employees. Instead, thousands of independent contractors lost work they loved, sometimes ending up without any income at all. Truckers, writers, photographers, and others filed multiple lawsuits against the state, and more than 30 cleanup or repeal bills were introduced in Sacramento. Even A.B. 5's original sponsor introduced a bill to try to fix some of the damage her law had done.

Spooked by the California results as well as by local outcry, New Jersey lawmakers ended up withholding their support, and the legislation stalled. In New York, which had the benefit of watching California and New Jersey go first, there was enough concern about pushback that Gov. Andrew Cuomo, instead of giving full-throated support to that state's version, tried to create a task force to study the issue (it failed to materialize before the pandemic hit).

But at the federal level, Democrats are still clinging to the original playbook. Presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden has endorsed the idea, both tweeting his support for California's A.B. 5 and saying he'll make a federal version the law of the land if he wins the White House. He says California has "paved the way" to a better future for workers. The idea also has the support of prominent members of Congress, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), and most Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, which advanced the PRO Act in February.

They all say their stance is about protecting workers, even though California's example has taught us that such regulations cripple huge swaths of the middle class, denying people the flexibility they want and the cash flow they need. And flexibility and cash flow will both be all the more important as COVID-19 forces many of us to change the way we work.

The legislation before the committee in New Jersey that day was built around something called the ABC Test. This three-question tool, which regulators use to determine whether a person is truly an independent contractor, requires that anyone doing work for a company be (A) free from the company's control; (B) in a different line of business than the company; and (C) customarily engaged in the type of work, which is often interpreted as doing similar work for more than one company. If regulators feel that a person meets all three of the ABC prongs, then she can be classified as an independent contractor. If not, then a company that wants to hire her must treat her as an employee, or the state can slap the company with fines and penalties.

This ABC Test was created during the Great Depression in an effort to improve conditions for factory workers. It has been the standard in some states for decades, albeit in varying forms. Democrats often point to Massachusetts, which has had versions of the language on the books since the 1990s, as evidence that the ABC Test does not harm self-employed workers like the ones who have been protesting it in California, New Jersey, and New York.

But there's a big difference between the system established in Massachusetts several decades ago and the one being advanced today: Politicians are now pushing regulators to interpret the ABC Test in a way that hurts independent contractors. In some states, for instance, the (B) prong of the test has two parts, saying the person can't be in the same line of business as the company and can never work from the company's office. That second provision allows freelance writers to sell articles to magazines, for example, as long as the writer never meets with an editor in the magazine's office. It's intended to stop "permalancing," or having freelancers work in-house like staffers without treating them to the benefits enjoyed by employees—but it's a demand that will sound crazy to any writer who takes an occasional in-person business meeting.

California truncated its (B) prong to remove the second part, which the PRO Act also does. But even without that second provision, no freelance writer can sell an article to a newspaper, magazine, or website editor. The writer and editor are both in the publishing business. They fail that prong of the test no matter where they do their work. So do musicians who hire other musicians to play a single gig at a club, or courts that hire interpreters to do a single Zoom call with a defendant who speaks a foreign language. In California right now, some college educators are reporting that the institutions where they teach must onboard guest speakers as employees, even if the speaker only spends an hour talking to students in a classroom.

And that's just the (B) prong. The (A) and (C) prongs present their own sets of problems when you try to apply their 1930s-era language to the way people work in the year 2020.

The California bill, according to testimony there, was literally written by the AFL-CIO, which understands that it's essentially impossible to unionize independent contractors; if independent workers deal together to set prices for work, they're violating price-fixing laws. AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka had this message for Democrats who don't support the federal version of the legislation: "Do not ask the labor movement for a dollar or a door knock. We won't be coming."

In California and elsewhere, the main target in Democrats' and union organizers' sights is app-based companies such as Uber. Cuomo in January equated the entire gig economy with sweatshops of the early 1900s, saying everyone from rideshare drivers to newspaper carriers is being denied proper pay and benefits. He went so far as to compare Uber and its ilk to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, where a fire killed nearly 150 people in 1911. "As FDR, Al Smith, and Frances Perkins protected workers after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire," Cuomo said, "we too must protect workers from today's threat, which is economic exploitation."

The same message came from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in early May, when that state sued Uber and Lyft. "Californians who drive for Uber and Lyft lack basic worker protections—from paid sick leave to the right to overtime pay," he stated in a press release. "American taxpayers end up having to help carry the load that Uber and Lyft don't want to accept. These companies will take the workers' labor, but they won't accept the worker protections. California has ground rules with rights and protections for workers and their employers. We intend to make sure that Uber and Lyft play by the rules."

After A.B. 5 went into effect in January, those companies refused to reclassify their drivers as employees. Instead, they sued California to block enforcement of A.B. 5, calling the law unconstitutional and claiming that it violates, among other things, the "fundamental liberty" to work as an "independent service provider." That lawsuit is still pending; in the meantime, Uber, Lyft, and other companies reportedly have invested more than $100 million in a campaign to get the issue on the ballot this fall. If enough voters agree, they hope to force California to classify app-based drivers as independent contractors, thus negating A.B. 5 for their industry.

For people like me, the bigger problem is that the app-based companies drawing lawmakers' ire didn't create the independent contractor business model, nor are they the only ones potentially harmed by legislation intended to stop it. In July 2019, researchers from the Internal Revenue Service, the Treasury Department, the University of Michigan, and New York University published a report on this segment of the U.S. workforce. They found that the share of workers with independent-contractor income was up 22 percent since 2001, "pre-dating the rise of the gig economy."

The report also states that independent-contractor income is "not evenly distributed across workers," tearing a huge hole in the argument that people classified as independent contractors are, as a rule, being exploited. The biggest chunk of self-employed people is in the top quartile of earnings, while the fastest-growing segment of self-employed people is in the bottom quartile. The new interpretation of the ABC Test can't tell the difference between the bottom-rung Uber driver and a six-figure bandleader, even though they're orders of magnitude different when it comes to financial insecurity and potential exploitation. Laws devised to protect one group could be disastrous for the other, not to mention many income levels in between.

Other studies have reached similar conclusions. ADP Research, an arm of one of the world's largest payroll and human-resources services companies, released a report in February that identified "two worlds of gig workers." The first type is skilled, older, highly educated, and choosing to work on what she enjoys. The second type is short-term, younger, less educated, seasonal, and on-call.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and McKinsey & Co., 70–80 percent of independent contractors prefer contract work to a traditional job and do not feel financially strapped. I fall into that category—but the crusaders behind laws such as A.B. 5 treat people like me as if we are invisible. Here in New Jersey, a July 2019 report from Gov. Phil Murphy's Task Force on Misclassification was written by a group that included no independent contractors and drew on work by the National Employment Law Project, a think tank funded by the AFL-CIO and other unions. The report acknowledged that misclassification of workers as independent contractors was most prevalent in low-wage, labor-intensive sectors such as janitorial services. But the policy changes it recommended applied to independent contractors across the board.

California's law is already prompting companies in other states to deny work to independent contractors for fear that those other states will start to interpret the ABC Test in the same strict way. As of April, for instance, Hearst—one of the largest magazine publishers in the world, with titles ranging from Esquire to Popular Mechanics to Good Housekeeping—was notifying residents of Alaska, Indiana, Massachusetts, and West Virginia that because their states had an ABC Test on the books, freelance writers who lived there could no longer contribute to any of the company's publications.

And it could get worse. Consider the second prong of the ABC Test—the one that bars a business from hiring an independent contractor in the same line of work. A stay-at-home mom who works a few hours a day online, teaching English as a second language to kids in China, is in the same line of work as the education company she works for. An attorney who's asked to lend expertise in a single big case is in the same line of work as the law firm that needs his limited help. And then there's the little matter of COVID-19. All those doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists crossing state lines to work shifts in overwhelmed hospitals? They are medical professionals, so they and the hospitals hiring them are in the same business. The PRO Act, if it goes through unamended, would make it illegal for them to help unless a hospital brought them on board as staff employees.

None of that sounds like protecting working people. It sounds like forcing independent workers into traditional jobs they don't want, aren't asking for, and have been resisting for years.

The anti-contractor crusaders have been retooling their talking points with COVID-19 in mind, but not because they're reconsidering the costs their regulations could impose on society during a pandemic. Instead, they're presenting their rules as a way to protect workers during the crisis.

On April 1, Sen. Warren highlighted the people "serving customers who cannot leave home during the pandemic," calling on gig companies to reclassify them as employees to "ensure they are provided a full suite of employee protections and benefits." That same day, instead of simply disbursing federal pandemic aid for out-of-work independent contractors, California's Employment Development Department all but threatened to audit companies that hire them if the contractors applied for the benefits. "We hear you, #independentcontractors!" the agency tweeted. "We have a process to determine if you've been misclassified."

A day later, New Jersey's labor commissioner was asked about the process for independent contractors to apply through his office for federal pandemic aid. "We feel a lot of people who are independent contractors should be classified as employees," he replied.

On April 8, some of the academics who had promoted the restrictive California law sent an open letter to all state unemployment agencies, demanding that they focus on reclassifying Uber and Lyft drivers as employees instead of simply disbursing the federal pandemic aid those workers were entitled to receive as independent contractors. The AFL-CIO also repackaged a number of its misclassification demands into something it called the "Labor Plan," demanding benefits like paid sick leave and unemployment insurance for all workers.

Those benefits may sound good on paper, but they make zero sense for freelancers like me. Which of the dozen or more magazines and newspapers I write for should have to pay me sick leave? How would that time be accrued when I do not write for anyone by the hour, by the day, or on a salary? Am I unemployed if my regular clients need me to write less, but my income stays the same because I write more for other clients? There is no universe in which it's rational for people like me to be classified as traditional employees. Changing labor laws in this way wouldn't help us; it would do exactly what it has in California and at publishing houses such as Hearst: make our clients afraid to work with independent contractors at all.

It's easy to fall in behind calls to better protect workers, especially the ones we see delivering food to our doors through services like Uber Eats and Grubhub. We are all grateful for the work of these people, whose contributions are now more pronounced in our daily lives. Of course we want them to have higher pay and the ability to stay home if they're sick.

But when the calls come to "reclassify independent contractors as employees," we also need to think about the many contractors who would be better off staying classified exactly the way we are. Some of us—such as the vast majority of truckers now keeping our nation's supply chain moving in ways the public doesn't see—are proving themselves essential during the pandemic too. At the Port of New York and New Jersey, a whopping 77 percent of truckers are independent contractors, a fact revealed in testimony that day in December at the New Jersey Statehouse. A lot of them were there too—they filled about half the room. Like me, they wanted lawmakers to leave them alone.

Fortunately, some of the lawmakers pushing these bills are backing down, at least partly. Following the disastrous fallout in California, Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez—A.B. 5's original sponsor—has promised to revise the law with exemptions for freelance writers and others. If Twitter is any indication, the amendments won't solve all the problems the law is causing. (Consider that this may be the first time since the Founders adopted the First Amendment that writers have actually needed an exemption from a labor law to be able to work freely anywhere in this country, with any publishers they choose, as often as they wish to write.) But it's a start.

In New Jersey, support has been building in both parties not just to abandon the stalled ABC Test legislation but to shift the state entirely to the modern IRS Test. Written in the 1980s and updated since then, the IRS Test is far more robust and detailed than the ABC Test's three basic questions; it's much more likely to give regulators enough information to determine the difference between a $10-an-hour delivery driver and a six-figure musician.

If New Jersey politicians need reassurance that they'll have a fight on their hands should they choose to revert to the previous game plan, they need only look to New York City. There, in late April, lawmakers introduced a bill similar to California's A.B. 5, saying it would protect gig workers. The outcry from independent contractors was so loud that the bill's supporters are now replying to freelancer complaints with a form letter promising to write better exemptions for entire swaths of the economy so that "the same mistakes made in California will not be repeated here."

The pandemic has made me more grateful than ever to be able to earn my living as an independent contractor. I'm my own boss, and that means no one can force me to go into a situation I feel is unsafe. I was already set up to work from a home office, so I required no adjustment period to maintain productivity. Having multiple streams of income from multiple companies, instead of a single salary that can be wiped out all at once, continues to make me feel more financially secure. And yes, I have health insurance.

Financial security isn't determined by whether you're a traditional employee or an independent contractor. It's determined by things like earning enough to have a savings account and having the ability to stay home when you're sick. Those things can be, and are being, achieved by employees and independent contractors alike.

That much was vividly evident the day we testified before the New Jersey Senate's Labor Committee. Independent contractors by the busload stood up and said so. After coming to understand that reality, Sen. Greenstein strongly urged her fellow Democrats not to rush headlong into a mistake. "With something this important," she said, "a little time needs to be taken to be absolutely certain that we're doing the right thing."

Sen. Lagana backed her up with a call to support, not harm, the working people that our leaders are supposed to represent. "We have to do our best job to ensure that those traditionally independent classes of employees will remain independent," he said, "and that those who wish to remain independent, that their voices can't be stifled."

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  2. The intention of these laws is to force everyone who works into working for a large corporation.
    The reason to force everyone into working for a large corporations that the left wing fascist model is for the government to control the corporations, which then controls the citizens. After they force everyone into wage work, it is easier to lean on troublemakers by suggesting to their employer that maybe they should be out of a job.
    (note: they are starting this with the cancel culture. Read some history from before 1960 about the rise of fascism in Italy)

    1. Shhh, you aren’t supposed to notice things like the political boycotts being done in boardrooms as a means to censor voices and such.

    2. When Hillary was running for pres she said no one should be self employed. She hates small business and those who work for them and the self employed

      1. Well, Bernie said nobody should be employed at all, since there is no need to “earn” a living.

      2. Do you have a source on this? Quick google search doesn’t pull anything up.

    3. That’s impossible. Everyone knows that fascism only comes from the right. Duh!

    4. Eventually, they will at least partially nationalize these companies. Like Warren’s plan to install a political officer at all corporations that have over a billion dollars in gross annual revenue.

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  3. Kim, may I suggest two actions?
    1. Incorporate; deal company to company with contracts for the small expense of incorporation. (well in FL it is a small expense)
    2. Move away from New Jersey.

    1. If I have an LLC through which I am engaged, do these laws still apply?

      In OH it cost me about $200 to establish an LLC.

      1. Disclaimer – I did this years ago in FL; things have changed.
        When I set up my corporation (software consulting), I employed my self on a salary basis. I did this for exactly the reasons in the article, many companies that wanted to use my service were concerned with the appearance of an employee relationship, even for a short term contract. The contracts were between two corporations, and the statement of work never specified which employees of my corporation would provide the work. I had a business liability insurance policy, and documented my exemption from worker’s comp (allowed in FL for corporate officers) so the clients were in the clear. By treating myself as an employee, all taxes were paid, and it kept up my Social Security contributions.
        To be complete, I will add that after all the ‘stuff’ related to the corporate structure, I didn’t pocket a lot more money than as an employee, but I got to set the terms.
        If you look into this, also remember most states require an annual filing, for which they also charge a few hundred dollars. Also, health insurance was free market then, I have no idea how that would work under socialism. *grins*

      2. Sure. They apply to your LLC as an employer of you. With fewer than 15 employees, that LLC will have an easy time of it.

    2. Being an LLC or even an S-Corp does not matter the way this legislation is written, according to New Jersey lawmakers.

      And moving away from New Jersey won’t matter if the PRO Act becomes law. Joe Biden is promising to enact the ABC Test nationwide, the same way California did. We’d all have to move out of the country to save our businesses.

  4. I fear a Biden administration, coupled with a democratic majority in Congress and removal of the filibuster, will be the final steamroller across American commerce. While Joe sleeps the day away his VP and aides will concoct even worse ideas than what has been done to contractors. Much of this started with Obama but they considered him weak and too center left, and republicans managed to block the worst of it. The radicals if they take power will not hesitate to destroy the rest.

  5. Just another way that the Democrats always hurt the people they pretend to protect. Defunding the police hurts the people in a poor, crime infested neighborhood more than the donor behind guarded gates. “Helping” people become employees hurts those who are using their skills and drive to earn a living in ways that they want. Paying people to not work in many different ways erodes their sense of self worth.

    1. Minimum wage laws just price the entry-level unskilled laborers out of the market. LBJ’s war on poverty has devastated the inner cities, caused crime to skyrocket, while not actually making a dent in poverty.

      There’s a reason for all of this. If you base winning elections on being the savior of the downtrodden, you need a permanent, helpless underclass of downtrodden. You want them to think you are their only hope, but you do not want to actually help any of them… if they are no longer part of the underclass, what use do they have for you anymore?

      The biggest trick has been for the Democrats to keep entire swaths of the population in squalor to ensure they’d vote for Democrats, while blaming that situation on the other side.

  6. “We’re from government and we’re here to help.”

    1. Remember when a presidential candidate who made a mockery of that phrase got elected in a landslide?

      Or was it just a dream? Doesn’t even seem possible any more.

      1. Trump is afraid to say it. It would be a big plus if he said it, however.

        No Donkey even reads that sentence without barfing.

      2. No Republican, no matter who it was or what he stood for, could win 49 states today. His own state of California will never go Republican again, and there are a lot of others that won’t either. They’d vote for demented Joe before Reagan now.

    2. Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their forms.

      1. I can see those a mile off…

  7. For the life of me, I cannot understand how economic liberty has come to be treated so poorly. Yet I do understand that (a) the founding fathers surely assumed it was such a basic fundamental right that it never occurred to them it had to be enumerated, (b) the 9th and 10th amendments have never had any teeth, (c) the fears of the opponents of the Bill of Rights have come true, that enumerating a few specific rights has made all others second class or less, and (d) without the Bill of Rights, even those fundamental rights would have long since been trashed.

    How many other fundamental rights have been trashed, and will be trashed? Part of what frightened me about Roe v Wade was that instead of using the perfectly good 9th and 10th Amendments as cover, they dreamed up the whole thing about out whole cloth, as if that were less contentious. I can’t imagine any way they can ever be resurrected, this long past the anti-trust era, the New Deal era, and affirmative action.

    1. Part of what frightened me about Roe v Wade was that instead of using the perfectly good 9th and 10th Amendments as cover,

      As a cover for what? The 9A and 10A make it clear that abortion is a state matter; you can’t justify Roe v. Wade with that.

      1. The 9th and 10th *should* make lots of things clear. What they really do is provide an excuse to expand the federal government beyond all recognition.

        As for abortion being a state matter, maybe before the 14th incorporated privileges and immunities, and after Slaughterhouse eviescerated them. But that’s besides the point.

        1. SQRLSY One
          July.2.2020 at 5:11 pm
          Port-a-potties ARE buffets

          LOLOL

          1. I’m sure he thinks soiled diapers are parfaits too. And I suspect Jeffy and PB would get in on that too.

            1. AHAHAHA

      2. 10A would make it a state matter, but 9A can easily be understood to uphold a pre-existing right to abort. And then the argument would be about whether there was such a pre-existing right to retain. Which is the problem with the whole 9th amendment: It says lack of enumeration doesn’t disparage rights that were already there, but then it’s a question of fact as to whether there was this, that, or the other right — and what counts as evidence of that?

        The whole federal reproductive rights line of jurisprudence is hilarious. When you strip away the legalese, it says making babies is fundamental, because without babies you don’t have people, and without people you wouldn’t have the US Constitution, therefore making babies is fundamental to the Constitution. And if making babies is fundamental, then the various steps involved in making or not making babies is fundamental as well, including birth control, abortions, and homosexual intercourse — the last because, even though it cannot make babies, it looks like what you’d do to make babies, so because the law can’t get involved with the details, it must be allowed as well.

        But apparently not so with prostitution, because the right to do anything doesn’t include the right to get paid for it.

  8. The death of freedom rides into town on legislation.

  9. I am speaking out of complete ignorance here, so forgive me if this is a stupid idea.

    What if each individual formed an LLC, of which they were the sole employee, that contracted work out to other companies? Then couldn’t the person tell the government “I’m an employee of an LLC I own, a business which contracts driving services out to companies such as Uber and Lyft”?

    1. SCOTUS just wrecked independent contracting and contract law in Oliveira v New Prime. RPG blurted out during oral argument, “it’s all just a scam anyway”.

      1. That cunt never had a real job in her life. Just a bloodsucking attorney and marxism enthusiast.

    2. Why should anyone have to pay yearly for paper work just to work and/or comply with bad laws. Legal paper work arounds are not an Answer to bad laws get ride of bad laws or in this case dont make bad laws in the first place. The right to work should not require documentation and fees to work

      1. Legal paper work arounds are not an Answer to bad laws

        um, yes they totally are guy

      2. Why should anyone have to pay yearly for paper work just to work

        Like having someone do one’s income taxes? I like this line of thought.

    3. I am an independent contractor but have only one client. I own a semi truck that I have leased to a carrier. The carrier pays the owner of the truck, me. I pay the driver of the truck, me. It really doesn’t matter how you organize your business if your entire income is from a single 1099. You will fail the ABC test and be classified as an employee. Interstate trucking is exempt from state price fixing by federal law. But a lyft driver is not unless they hire out to multiple companies. I don’t know if that’s a practical business model for an individual. If you have only one customer and one 1099 they’re gonna put you out of business.

      1. Most uber drivers also work for lyft, I believe.

    4. Well, a guy upthread told about his xp doing just that.

  10. Lol, that picture.
    Every single one of them looks like a douchebag or a twat.

    1. lol, so true. They all have such a smug look on their face.

  11. Excuse me, but what makes you think this move is intended to HELP? This is a move to limit options. The Fascist Left doesn’t like it when people have options. They might make Wrong Decisions.

    1. It’s intended to extract money from the unwilling and send it to the unions, who then forward a cut to the crooked politicians who push this tripe.

      Trumka pretty much said exactly that in his threat to Democratic pols who waver.

      It’s so transparent it’s like they’re not even trying any more.

      1. “It’s intended to extract money from the unwilling and send it to the unions, who then forward a cut to the crooked politicians who push this tripe.”

        The CA version of this was sponsored by a representative who was (maybe still is) a union official in San Diego. There’s only two dots to connect there, and they’re not far apart.

        1. And let’s not forget the tax angle. Independent contractors and freelancers get to deduct expenses and overhead from their taxable income. Employees can rarely if ever take advantage of these deductions and their pay is taxed before they get their check. They can claim to want to help the little guy but it’s those middle and upper middle income contractors who earn enough to actually pay taxes and not get tax refunds. As an employee once you get over a certain income more and more of your earnings go to taxes. My ex paid 20k in taxes as a contractors on a higher income vs 50k as an employee on a lower income. The best advice he ever gave me was to incorporate. Sure the fees and paper work sucks but compared to the alternative of having your income constantly threatened by politicians who dont know anything about having to turn a profit or at least not lose money to stay in business.

        2. Flagged in error. Mea Culpa.

          1. Don’t feel too bad; the site jumps around enough I flagged my own post a month or so ago.

            1. The funniest part is that the flags don’t matter. Reason has banned, what, two accounts? I seriously believe it’s two, and I can’t even remember who they were.

              1. They banned the Hinhbot.

  12. The bill, which would have reclassified many independent contractors as traditional salaried employees, was promoted as a way to protect low-wage workers whose companies were cheating them out of salaries and benefits.

    Democrats themselves tell you that salaried labor is keeping people in bondage and dependence. So, you should think of these bills like the fugitive slave laws: Democrats want to keep people in bondage and dependence.

    The last thing Democrats want is for large numbers of young Americans to become independent contractors and figure out how to stand on their own two feet, because that would deprive them of their base.

    1. It is hard to unionize independent contractors.

      1. A history lesson for those who don’t understand ….

        The original complaints about “wage slaves” were a reaction to factory workers. Before that you were a farmer, lawyer, etc, or a crafts worker as either apprentice, journeyman, or master. Everyone owned their own tools. The idea of factory workers, with no independent skills and no tools of their own, but being held bondage by a capitalist factory owner, was a brand new concept. Marx was just one of many who ramped up the outrage. Others were the slavocracy; I suppose because the idea that anyone could work in a factory and make money probably gave slaves too many opportunities other than slavery. The South was not a friendly place for any freedom; they also hated freedom of speech for all the abolitionist propaganda being sent through the post office.

        The Democrat’s vendetta against independent contractors and freedom generally is just the same old story. They are the party of “we know what is best for you”. Republicans, well, they’ve changed a few times, and it’s hard to say what they are for, but they are at least not freedom-hating Democrats, even if they aren’t exactly liberty lovers.

        1. Okay thanks for the common information most here probably have, but not a real reply to my comment.

          My comment is more along the lines of Janus and home healthcare rulings and the attempts of states to force those taking care of family in isolation to join unions.

          But thanks for the obvious history that didnt actually change my comment.

          1. It wasn’t obvious to hose who didn’t know.

            And what ruffled your feathers this morning, or are you always a grumpista?

            1. SQRLSY One
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        2. OK, let’s look at this from their perspective. Originally it was bad because independent artisans etc. became wage slaves. So they took 2 tacks in response.

          One was to try to organize to overthrow wage slavery, to put workers in control of the capital they use together, where they used to own tools individually.

          The other was to enlist the state to tame the capitalist.

          Standing between these 2 directions was organized labor. They would employ violence first directly, and then get the state’s assistance, to even out bargaining strength between employer and employee. But where would they go from there?

          In most of the world, organized labor is Red. They explicitly look at what they’re doing as a temporary station until they have enough strength to expropriate capital owners.

          In the USA and Canada, organized labor means to stay. They would resist the expropriation of employers, because they realize that they themselves are the new bosses. And so they also resist employees who want to be independent.

        3. ‘They are the party of “we know what is best for you”.’

          Republicans are the party of “they know what is best for you”, “they” being rich folks.

      2. Exactly. Especially those of us who can work wherever we have internet access. I got the hell out of NY because the choice was between living in an urban hellhole or paying the majority of your income to live in an area where it was possible to have a somewhat decent quality of life. There are so many ppl I know who would leave NY in a heartbeat but they are tied to their jobs. To be fair I dont make much more as a freelancer but I get to live the life I want, where I want to live it because my income goes further.

        1. Yep. I get to be a snowbird at a time in my life where most people are working 9-5 in an office, and I don’t even miss a day of work when I transition!

  13. “I think that somebody used the term ‘unintended consequences,’ and it may be that that’s what’s going on here.”

    No, these consequences are fully intended.

    “None of that sounds like protecting working people. It sounds like forcing independent workers into traditional jobs they don’t want, aren’t asking for, and have been resisting for years.”

    Yes.

    And ultimately, these crusaders wish to do away with all private commercial transactions, given that without the proper government control, they believe someone is always being exploited. The end result will require all of us to be state employees, working at state-issued Type 1 jobs, being paid the Standard Wage, and paying 90% of that back in taxes. Such a proletariat paradise has never been tried before, right?

    On to the Glorious Workers’ future!

  14. Economic disaster!!!!

    Reason.com’s benefactor Charles Koch is now only the 19th richest person on the planet!

    I’m literally shaking at the thought of him falling out of the top 20. It’s genuinely upsetting that someone can work so hard and achieve so much — then watch his fortune collapse because the President refuses to implement his open borders agenda.

    #HowLongMustCharlesKochSuffer?

    1. Let’s start a GoFundMe campaign for poor Charlie.

  15. SCOTUS just wrecked independent contracting and contract law in Oliveira v New Prime. RPG blurted out during oral argument, “it’s all just a scam anyway”.

    1. Well, you have to remember that everything affects interstate commerce when it comes to the government, but nothing affects interstate commerce when it comes to the individual.
      That is clearly stated in the US Constitution, abridged.

  16. You mean we have people out there doing something that isn’t part of the DNC’s Labor Union???? UNACCEPTABLE….

  17. Always remember, a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have.

  18. Everyone wants to be free. But only small number of people are able to do it

  19. What I don’t get is that these folks that choose these jobs do exactly that: they choose them. They knew the deal going in. One could argue that ‘it’s all they can get’ or ‘there was no real choice’, but I find that to be a stretch. Even if it is, do you want to earn *some* money or *no* money?

    But then a lot of them complain and that stirs the pots and the left takes it up as a cause for them to use to show how much they care. If they really cared, they’d leave it all alone. In some ways this is the high extreme of virtue signaling. The gig economy has helped thousands upon thousands of folks make extra money, while letting them work for multiple companies and they can do it whenever and wherever they choose.

    But how does one push back on this? If you attempt to do so, you are billed as one who cares not for the workers: “Can’t you see their plight? Do you hate them so much?”. Quite the contrary, but I’m not sure how to convince most folks of that…

    1. “convince most folks” —
      1. It’s morally wrong to use the power of guns ( law + police ) to gain wealth (POWER = WEALTH).
      2. It’s morally correct to assume that VALUE = WEALTH. The *value* individuals provide for others will determine the wealth ( the *value* from others ) they can expect to receive.

      1. You can’t convince them because they don’t care about workers. It’s the same for their minimum wage policies.

        They’re not doing these things because they love drivers, Wal-Mart greeters, and fast food workers.

        They’re doing them because they hate Uber, Wal-Mart, and McDonalds.

        Unless you can convince them to love Uber, Wal-Mart, and McDonalds, they will never agree.

        1. They’re doing them because they love Union political contributions. All the rest is merely theater.

        2. Then the counter would be, “I can think of thousands of places that don’t have Uber, Wal-Mart or a McDonalds. You choose to live in a city because??? Sounds like pure envy to me and if that be the case; What’s stopping ‘you’ from being an Uber, a Wal-Mart, or a McDonalds? So what you’re really hating is your own incompetency of which is probably stifled by your own hatred/envy and society ‘values’ hatred/envy how much?”

  20. A little time needs to be taken to be absolutely certain that we’re doing the right thing, Well some good coverage on this topic. Thanks.
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  21. >AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka had this message for Democrats who don’t support the federal version of the legislation: “Do not ask the labor movement for a dollar or a door knock. We won’t be coming.”

    This seems very, very close to bribery. They’re linking money to a vote on a specific bill.

    1. Nice little political party ya got here; be a shame if something happened to it.

      Note: it’s only bribery if an evil corporation does it; totally OK for unions, as long as they go for democrats.

      1. Lmao! Yeah pay to play as fine as long as they’re on the right team.

        1. As it ever was and ever shall be.

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    1. Some commenters NEVER read the article!

      1. It’s a first attempt, to see if the html coding works and if they can add Reason to their auto poster database. Reason’s laudable hands off approach to the comments leads to a small amount of spam, and an incredible amount of pure idiocy.

        1. Jeff deserves that cheap shot.

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  24. The push to reclassify independent contractors is harming many of the workers it’s supposed to help.

    Union organizers?

    1. This whole thing is just. Ore de o rat bullshit. Nothing will ever get fixed until we force the progressives out of this country.

      1. Or at least get them to understand the fundamentals of dual federalism in this country. Making ‘federal’ (Union of States) or even their own State the center stage is probably the most curs-id thing they do. Wouldn’t be so bad if they could keep their politics within city limits.

  25. Incorporation. Syndication. The ways to beat this are manifold.

    1. Incorporating won’t save a uber driver.

      1. How does Uber even come close to counting as an employment relationship? Does Uber pay the driver, or does the passenger? As far as I know, Uber is just an app the passenger and driver use to hook up.

        1. The checks are from Uber. (Electric payments, but still, they come from Uber.)

      2. Not sure why Uber, et al. set themselves up this way. Surely instead of paying drivers, they could sell data on potential riders to drivers and also sell a credit-card transaction service to drivers. Or rather, to “qualified customers”.

  26. While I share the concern of the author about freedom to work as a contractor, I also acknowledge that it creates problems. Too many benefits that we consider essential are tied to traditional work. This creates burdens for employers and employees alike. Some want to force everyone into traditional employment. This article suggests the opposite. What if we instead engineer some of these benefits outside the employee/employer environment. Healthcare and retirement are prime candidates for this reengineering.

    1. Fuck, why not just distribute a UBI equal to the median wage and be done with it?

      I know, that will not be enough since anything people need (or just want) is a FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT, and must be provided. So besides the UBI and health care and retirement, how about food, shelter, entertainment, and sex?

      1. Ok. Let me see pics of the sex first though

    2. “…What if we instead engineer some of these benefits outside the employee/employer environment…”

      What about if we keep our noses out of other people’s business?

      1. Because Libertarians are fascists!

        /Every Prog Idiot Ever.

    3. Stop considering so many things as being essential?

    4. Did you ‘get’ that you are full of shit?

    5. What if we instead engineer some of these benefits outside the employee/employer environment. Healthcare and retirement are prime candidates for this reengineering.

      I like my benefits package the way it is, instead of paying the government to give me half as much at twice the price. How about these solutions for indies:

      Healthcare – Get an insurance plan, concierge medicine, pay as you go.

      Retirement – Save your money.

    6. “What if we”???? no, no “What if YOU!!!”… Don’t pretend to be everyone’s dictator. Do what you want to do and leave everyone else ALONE!!!! You want traditional employment GO DO IT… You want Healthcare and retirement GO GET IT… Stop trying to lord over everyone.

  27. Self-employment is a symptom of something more sinister than just working for yourself. It is indicative of a disease Americans have called “freedom.”
    Setting your own hours, negotiating your own salaries, doing the work you want to do is the result of continued capitalist brainwashing by sadistic and oppressive by our oppressors.
    You do not see self-employment in such socialist Utopias like Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela or Seattle. Indeed, the enlightened leaders have done the thinking, planning and deciding for the ignorant and repulsive masses.
    The result is harmony, peace, love and justice in their respective countries.
    There are no riots.
    There are no looting there.
    There are no vandalism.
    That’s because their is no cancer there called freedom.

    1. Sorry, accidentally flagged. Fucking auto pop up videos.

    2. Self employment is like having your own small business. And we all know what Governor Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy thinks about small business.

    3. “no cancer there called freedom”
      The good thing about freedom is you can go be a robot under some dictator voluntarily anytime you choose to…

      Plenty of dictators around waiting for a slave. If one thinks their own freedom is a cancer; there certainly is an instant and guaranteed cure. Heck, you could start your own commie corp union ( its baffling with all these leftists in this country NO-ONE seems to have done it already on a voluntary basis ) under contract to be a slave for housing, food, healthcare and retirement….

      Well, I guess all the flappy yaps really don’t even support their own ‘theology’ since NO-ONE has ever done it. They have ALL the freedom in the world to do it and yet I can’t think of a single contract corp that offers enslavement for granted produce.

      Wait; then again. Maybe that’s what the left really wants deep down — to re-enact slavery so ‘slaves’ AGAINST their own will, will provide them their living.

  28. New Jersey state labor commissioner. ” We feel a lot of people who are independent contractors should be classified as employees.” So sorry, I didn’t realize my livelihood was affecting how these people feel. Well I will definitely give up my chosen career of a decade and go back to being an underpaid cog in the machine if only to make others feel good about helping those of us who didnt ask for their damn help.

    That sentiment speaks volumes about the extent to which the Democrats have lost their collective minds. It’s not about my livelihood or right to live as I choose. All that matters is how someone else in a position of power feels. And as soon as you say something someone finds in the least offensive, even if it’s TRUE, there goes your job. Job security as an employee vs a contractor/freelancer is a myth for many reasons. And it’s even worse now that feelings are sacrosanct and offices are filled with Karen’s ready to get people fired for saying anything they find offensive, even if it’s TRUE. Thanks but hard pass for me.

    1. So much all of this. For the longest time I had a hard time getting housing because I technically didn’t have a guaranteed income as a contractor. But how long would that apartment lady have a job if she stopped working? I get paid when I work, too. I like to eat and to have a nice place to live. You know I will work because I don’t want to be homeless. The same way you know the apartment lady will keep working.

      Not to mention, at any point the apartment complex can fire the lady working there, leaving her with zero income. I have multiple clients and even if I get “fired” by one, I have others that still provide income. So who REALLY has the job security?

  29. It basically comes down to health care. Because corporations basically pay for health care for employees, it means no one not working for a corporation can afford it unless they are rich.

    So when poor or even middle class people get sick, ultimately the government pays for it.

    The government wants to do this so it’s these companies that pay the medical bill, not the government.

    1. A truly free market in health INSURANCE would solve this problem for most.

  30. One can hope that we will see liberty of contract return as a judicial principle in the wake of all of the furor over the ‘gig economy’ and independent contractors.

    1. I heard you’re a fat ass. Is that true?

      1. Very.

  31. Politicians once handed out the jobs – most of them. Civil Service hiring and employment practices took many “government” jobs out of the hands of the Pols. Civil Service rules provided more generous schedules of benefits and protections than private employees could expect. The comparable wages were slightly less. Then came public sector unions in the mid 1960s. That was a huge mistake. I’m a private sector union man.

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  38. As noted earlier, the point of this is to create dependence on the state and eventually to make woke corporate employment the only game in town. It’s easy to control people who have no other means of earning a living than bowing down.

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  40. “It’s easy to fall in behind calls to better protect workers, especially the ones we see delivering food to our doors through services like Uber Eats and Grubhub. We are all grateful for the work of these people, whose contributions are now more pronounced in our daily lives. Of course we want them to have higher pay and the ability to stay home if they’re sick.

    “But when the calls come to “reclassify independent contractors as employees,” we also need to think about the many contractors who would be better off staying classified exactly the way we are.

    What if those Uber Eats and GrubHub folks feel they would be better off staying classified exactly the way they are? Kim Kavin sounds a bit like a progressive Karen except that he ox got gored by government this time. She’s done time over on HuffPost with articles like “Regulators Fine High-Profile Dog ‘Rescue’ Group After HuffPost Investigation” and “When ‘Puppy Mill Rescue’ Blurs The Line Between Saving And Selling Dogs” and in other places with topics like “Charter Yachts For Wine Lovers” and “Eco-friendly Yacht Design”

    “Kim Kavin is a national award-winning freelance journalist who writes primarily about boats and dogs. Her work has appeared everywhere from the cover of Yachting magazine to the front page of The Washington Post. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism who works from a home office in New Jersey with her two adopted shelter mutts.

  41. You mean politicians might be passing laws that are not in the best interest of the CITIZENS they are supposed to represent but rather the unions who want more members? REALLY?

  42. AB5 is not supposed to be helping anybody besides the union goons and the giantic communist mega-corporations. Well, and also the government, but that goes without saying.

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  44. It’s all about control. Control by the unions and the government. ICs don’t vote as a block, don’t unionize and don’t have PACs to make contributions or run ads. They must be destroyed.

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  46. Great article. This needs to be shouted from the rooftops. We are independent contractors because that’s what we want to be. No job is going to let me spend the morning out by the pool before getting to work in my underwear at noon. No job is going to let me work 80 hours a week if I want to.

    Take your preferences and shove them up your ass, because I do not share them. Leave me alone!

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