Labor Unions

Californians Rejected a Harsh Law That Destroyed Freelance Jobs. Congress Is Trying To Make It Federal Law.

The PRO Act would demolish the gig economy for the benefit of labor unions and would undermine right-to-work laws.


In November, California voters approved a ballot initiative that vetoed parts of a bad labor law forcing many companies and industries in the state to hire independent contractors as employees. So why, now, are Democrats in Congress trying to force these rules down the entire country's throat?

The California bill, A.B. 5 became a source of vicious labor conflict in the state. It was designed to attack ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber and delivery services like DoorDash and Grubhub. These companies operate via independent contractors rather than employees, which undermined the strong union controls over the labor market in the state.

A.B. 5 ended up hitting thousands upon thousands of freelance jobs in the market, from writers to musicians to real estate agents to interpreters. Eventually, lawmakers had to go back and carve out a bunch of exceptions to the law. They kept the ride-sharing and delivery services, the target for the legislation, in the law. But the companies didn't take it lying down and instead forced the measure to a vote via Proposition 22. California voters, despite their strong Democratic leanings, agreed that drivers should be permitted to remain independent contractors. Prop. 22 was passed.

Rather than learning a lesson here, Democrats and labor unions are instead trying to make the entire concept federal law with the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) of 2021.

A.B. 5 formalized a procedure known as the "ABC test," established through a California court precedent, to determine whether a person was a freelance worker or an employee. Whether the person wanted to be a freelance worker or an employee was utterly irrelevant to the test. Under the ABC test, the following three conditions must all apply in order to classify somebody providing services for your company as a freelance contractor:

  1. The worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work.
  2. The worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity's business.
  3. The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.

If those conditions are not met, workers must be treated as employees. These rules hit a remarkably broad swath of freelance contractors and are precisely what caused A.B. 5 to threaten so many independent jobs. And yet, the ABC test has been imported directly into the federal PRO Act. California voters rejected it in November. Nevertheless, six California representatives are among the PRO Act's sponsors, and when the House voted on the bill on Tuesday, every Democratic representative from the Golden State voted yes, in defiance of what the voters decided just months ago. It passed the House by a vote of 225-206. Only one Democrat, Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas, voted no. He has an excellent Twitter thread explaining why:

If the PRO Act only implemented this terrible ABC rule, that would be bad enough. But as Cuellar notes, it also undermines state-level right-to-work laws, which stop unions from requiring workers to join unions and pay union dues if they don't want to be represented by them.

Some of the framing of the PRO Act is absurdly lopsided. Take this USA Today story, which almost exclusively quotes supporters of the legislation (save for one Republican lawmaker). Here's one justification for supporting the law:

Lane Windham, the associate director at the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University, said that the PRO Act would rectify employers' ability to skirt longstanding labor laws. A former organizer with a clothing and textiles union working across the South, Windham said the bill's provision to stop employers from holding "captive audience meetings" — where they coerce or require workers to sit through meetings to discourage organizing — is particularly important.

So, to summarize, employers forcing workers to sit through meetings to discourage union organizing is bad and must be blocked by federal law. But forcing workers to pay dues to labor unions against their will is good and should be encouraged by federal law, even if state laws must be subverted to do so.

NEXT: A Reinstated Third-Degree Murder Charge Gives Jurors Another Option To Convict Derek Chauvin for Killing George Floyd

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  1. Just for the record;
    The voters did not repeal any part of the rights infringing law, they just added more exemptions to it.
    Any laws with exceptions/exemptions is a bad law.

    1. true, but don’t forget:
      loopholes = remaining freedoms

      1. Yes, and a bad country is one where freedom can only be found in holes.

  2. This is exactly the kind of shit the Dems are focusing on which convinces me they will not have time to implement any of the Green Raw Deal before the 2022 campaign season puts Congress into stasis.

    Gun control, labor unions, misgender identity equity, Title IX, there are all sorts of woke nonsense that the 2020 elections show the public hated; the Dems are wasting all their political capital on this shit and will be tied up in knots inside three months. 2022 is going to rout the Dem 10-0 majorities in Congress.

    1. Hopefully (well until the Republicans do something stupid). But Twitter could lift Trumps ban just in time for him to say something stupid before the midterms.

      1. Irrelevant. I am talking about Trump running for President, especially if he tries as a third party. That is not an issue in 2022.

  3. So, let’s see:

    • a law providing < 5% help fighting the disease, loaded with state bailouts, is called the "Covid-19 Relief Package",
    • a bill enshrining all the existing possibilities of election fraud is about to be passed as the “Election Reform Act”,
    • a law that completely ignores workers’ preferences to be contract workers or employees is called the “Protecting the Right to Organize Act”.

    Is anyone else seeing a pattern here?

    1. What next? A law to increase the number of Supreme Court justices to 13, which will be called the “Supreme court Unification and Protection Replacing Every Moderate with Extremist Sentiment (SUPREMES) Act “? Or will it just be called the Supreme Court Protection Act?

      1. Maybe just the Supreme Court After Trump (SCAT)

      2. Increase number of justices for Biden to nominate to 13, “Stop Republicans From Packing The Supreme Court” Act

    2. How about a law to make every gun owner surrender all useful firearms, on the pain of felony prosecution and life-destroying fines? We can call it the “Safeguarding Guns for Americans Act.”

    3. A law that implements pretty much the entire list of grievances in the Declaration of Independence is called the “Patriot Act”.

      1. Don’t forget when they knew they couldn’t muster enough public support to repass the Patriot Act, they instead simply renamed it the Freedom Act.

    4. The deceptively named Equality Act that really isn’t equal

    5. Are these anything like the Affordable Care Act or the the Patriot Act?

  4. Californians are going to learn good and hard that, while you can vote your way into a socialist dystopia, voting your way out is not so easy.

    1. Californians? Americans cant decide whether they want an authoritarian socialist society or an authroitarian fascist society.

      1. You repeat yourself.

    2. you can always leave, if there are any UHaul trucks left for outbound.

      1. My UHAL stocks are doing amazing..

  5. “A former organizer with a clothing and textiles union working across the South..”

    Well since she can’t follow those jobs and just up and move to SE Asia, she has to find work somewhere.

  6. “Whether the person wanted to be a freelance worker or an employee was utterly irrelevant to the test.”

    Apart from abortion, choice was never a strong part of the left.

    1. CHoice, but gettign pregnat is never a choice. It is jsut something that happens, luckily they have abortion to recify such mysteries of biology…

  7. Ruining Uber: progress!

    1. Taxi Medallions for All. As long as they meet the relevant criteria.

      1. Taxi medallions for some, little American flags for others. #kodos2024

  8. t4m darwin is web place where nice local girls from Australia waiting for chat with you

    1. pimp

    2. Not very “local”.

  9. We would have had none of this if you all had voted for Trump.

    1. So much this but short sighted blind TDS just because he wasn’t the one

    2. No, we’d be run by neo-Nazis who hate America and actively work to make it fail.

      Trump got himself vaccinated in secret while he told the rest of the country to cough on each other.

      1. Psssttt. Your party is run by the authoritarian nazis. Youre just too stupid to see it. Which party got segregation back? Which cities have increases in anti sometimes?

        1. He’s too stupid to recognize that has fantasies and lies do not begin to correlate to reality.

      2. I see the BlueAnon crowd are in the house.

      3. “Trump got himself vaccinated in secret ….”

        And then came down with a very public, and publicized, case of COVID.

        Good god, you are dumber than the dirt you probably squeeze out of earthworms before you eat them.

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  11. Nobody’s forced to do anything in a private business. If they don’t like the terms of employment, including any union terms, they don’t have to work there.

    “Right to work.” One of my favorite Republican Orwellian slogans.

    There is no principle at work other than the interests of owners to suppress wages across the board in order to line their own pockets. That’s an interest, but it’s not the only interest, and if you still think that the principle is that giving less money to workers and more money to owners is economically productive, you can just say so, if you can do it with a straight face in this day and age.

    1. You’re right, it’s clearly better to give control over your future to a political action commity that may or may not align with your views while also paying them a portion of your salary they won for you despite working there longer than the union…

      THe thing is it needs to be the employees who are empowered. Not the companies, not the unions. If people want to unionize let them. if they dont then dont force them. This law is intended to punish employers and employees while empowering unions.

    2. My position is that, while nothing beats a personal driver, Uber is much better than taxis, and anyone who wants to go back to taxis is retarded.

      Oh, look: democrats want to force us all to back to that. How retarded.

    3. Course the workers could just go and build their own company and reap the benefits themselves.

    4. oh so the private business can tell the union idiots to fuck off and die?

  12. the idiots who work to cancel all voting forget true democracies don’t require representatives.

  13. And guess who the people who are complaining voted for? Democrats that are behind ending the gig economy. You get what your vote for.

    Yes, I know Repubs have their problems, but nuking the gig economy isn’t one of them.

  14. On the bright side, the Dems are on track to destroy their majority in just 2 years.

    1. Where your elections are going, they don’t need a majority.

      1. ^THIS. There cannot be that many stupid people in the USA. I’m completely convinced Election fraud has been going on for decades in Urban Areas where the masses act as a cover to the fraud.

        1. with mail in ballot fraud, Republicans will never win again.

  15. If our forebears were as scared witless of creative destruction as are we, we’d still be subsidizing buggy whip makers and the largest government union would be for the horse poop scoopers.

  16. Dipshits voted for it. Dipshits will eat it with a spoon.

  17. Shocked, I tell you, just shocked. No one saw this coming (by actually reading Biden’s website).

    Fuck you Reason. This ones on you!

    1. Can’t understand why people would think Reason has so much influence. Do they really think Trump would’ve won if Reason would’ve pimped for him?

      1. Your right; Pimping news articles doesn’t rank as a needle in comparison to pimping the ballot box.

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