U.S. Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden speaks during a voter mobilization event on October 13, 2020 at Miramar Regional Park in Miramar, Florida.
Tom Brenner | Reuters
In the upcoming presidential election, Carolyn Bothwell, a freelance copywriter from Charlestown, Massachusetts, heard from concerned members of the freelance community she founded, Freelance Founders, what the results could mean for her company.
Some wonder which Democratic candidate is Vice President Joe BidenPublic support for AB-5, a union-backed California law aimed at preventing ridesharing misclassification by giving them full-time status and protection, means the future of their business. AB-5 had to be changed repeatedly after it went into effect January 1, 2020 as so many other types of freelancers became unemployed. “You’re really concerned about it,” says Bothwell. That’s because Biden – historically a supporter of the unions – wants a federal law similar to AB-5 that could severely restrict the question of who can be a freelancer.
With more Americans freelancing than ever before, the future of freelance work is a key concern for some workers as the presidential election approaches. A recent Upwork survey, Freelance Forward 2020found that 59 million Americans freelanced in 2019, 2 million more than the previous year.
Many freelancers across the country have kept an eye on the headlines about AB-5. The law, which went into effect January 1, 2020, is an attempt to eradicate inequalities in the gig economy, including the guidelines of independent ridesharing contractors like Lyft and Uber. Every employee in the state is assumed to be an employee unless the employer can demonstrate otherwise from the rigorous “ABC test” on which it is based.
The test’s B pin states that in order to qualify as a contractor, an employee must perform work that is outside the normal course of business for the recruiting company. This makes it difficult or impossible for many freelancers to work for clients in their own industry. Similar measures have so far been unsuccessfully considered in other states, including New York and New Jersey.
In addition to the ridesharing riders, AB-5 has added many other types of freelancers to its network, leading some employers to refrain from hiring freelancers from the state and creating a violent outcry from freelancers in areas where there were no outsourcing they could released. The law has now been changed so many times that it provides exceptions for more than 100 industries. The fixes are likely to continue, says Steve King, partner at Emergent Research, who studies the independent workforce. “It’s still written in a very confusing way,” he says.
On election day, California residents will now be asked to vote on it Theorem 22, an electoral measure that would overthrow AB-5, backed by a group of ride-sharing and gig economy companies that are investing more than $ 180 million in the fight. Proposal 22 would see ridesharing riders as independent contractors rather than employees or agents. The election initiative would also require that app-based ride-sharing agencies provide a guaranteed minimum wage, a subsidy for health benefits, health and disability insurance for accidents at work, and additional protection against harassment and discrimination. “It effectively creates a third category of workers,” says King.
Biden has spoken out against Proposition 22. In a tweet on May 26, the day it was endorsed by the AFL-CIO, he urged Californians to vote no on the matter.
As for freelancers in other states in the meantime, Biden has expressed support for the Organization Right (PRO) Act by tweeted that he would sign it on Sept. 7, and his support in the Biden plan to strengthen workers’ organizations, collective bargaining and unions on his campaign website. The PRO Act would use the same tripartite ABC test as AB-5 to decide who freelance nationwide.
The PRO law, strongly supported by the Democrats, would weaken the right to work in states that allow workers to opt out of participating in and paying union dues. It also gives the National Labor Relations Board the ability to punish companies who take revenge against workers for the organization and to grant collective bargaining rights to many workers who do not currently have them.
Jim Hoffa, the general president of Teamsters, noted his support for the legislation in one go blog entry: “The misclassification of workers is increasing and too many working Americans are falling through the cracks.”
Some freelancers are so afraid of what would happen if the PRO law were passed with the ABC test that it will affect their candidate choice. “I am 100% voting for this topic because we are talking about 100% of my income,” said Kim Kavin, a freelance writer from Long Valley, New Jersey. She co-founded a Facebook group called Fight for Freelancers NJ to oppose a law similar to AB-5 that was proposed in New Jersey but never got to the vote. “In the current economic situation in particular, I would like to continue earning a living.”
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The Biden campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the candidate’s positions on AB-5 and the PRO Act. However, in the Workers Organization Strengthening Plan on his website, Biden says he will if he is elected “”Aggressively prosecute employers who violate labor laws, engage in wage theft, or defraud their taxes by deliberately misclassifying workers as independent contractors. “
“”As president, Biden will discourage employers from deliberately classifying their workers as independent contractors, “the statement said.” It will enact laws that make misclassification of workers a material violation of the law under all federal labor, employment and tax laws, with additional penalties beyond those imposed for other violations. And he will build on it Efforts of the Obama-Biden administration Engage in an aggressive enforcement action that dramatically reduces the misclassification of workers.
He will direct the U.S. Department of Labor to establish meaningful, collaborative enforcement partnerships, including with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Justice, and the State Tax and Unemployment Insurance. and employment agencies. And while Trump has weakened enforcement by sabotaging enforcement agencies and their investigative corps slashed, Biden is going to have a dramatic funding Increase the number of investigators in labor and employment agencies to enable great efforts to combat misclassification. “
The Trump card The administration also took a position on the classification of employees. The Ministry of Labor proposed in September a new rule Clarify the status of employees and independent contractors under the Law on Fair Labor Standards. An “economic reality test” would be carried out, examining whether employees are in the business for themselves or are economically dependent on the employer. The decision whether to be in business for themselves depends on the nature and degree of control workers have over the work and the opportunity for profit and loss based on initiative and investment.
The analysis would also examine the level of skills required for the job, the degree of persistence of the working relationship between the worker and the employing company, and whether the work is an “integrated unit of production”. The 30-day comment period for the rule ends on October 26, 2020.
At the Freelancers Union, Executive Director Rafael Espinal says more education is needed on how the livelihoods of freelancers will be affected if the PRO law proceeds as written. Although the group’s membership is democratic, according to Espinal, many freelancers generally do not feel represented by any party.
The Executive Director of the Freelancers Union, Rafael Espinal, says that although their membership is democratic, many freelancers generally feel that they are not represented by either party. “Those who are aware of the negative impact of AB-5 in California are extremely concerned about what the next presidency can mean for their industry.”
Christina Emilie Photography
“Those who are aware of the negative impact of AB-5 in California are extremely concerned about what the next presidency can mean for their industry,” said Espinal.
The Freelancers Union has actively reached out to lawmakers to ensure they are aware of the potential impact of the PRO Act on their members. On September 10, the Freelancers Union held a town hall with the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), where the group raised concerns about the PRO Act. “He is committed to working with us to make sure we don’t get the same result that California got at the federal level,” says Espinal.
The Freelancers Union is now planning additional contacts with other legislators, says Espinal.
“We’re doing our best to build lines of communication with lawmakers who can help us direct the PRO Act and similar laws so that freelancers are not negatively affected,” says Espinal. “We’re also working to create a space to raise awareness so that the voices of freelancers can be heard and lawmakers hear how such laws have adversely affected the freelance workforce. We hope to make a point soon too.” where we play more. ” active role in the discussions on the PRO Act and similar laws at state level. “
With many people losing their jobs or being forced to find more flexible work arrangements as a result of the demands of the pandemic, the issue of employee grading is likely to gain in importance in the next few years.
“I expect the number of freelancers after a pandemic will increase given previous trends,” says Espinal. “After 2008, the number of people choosing to work as a freelancer has increased significantly.” And for many, the law determines how they are classified, how easy or difficult it is to make a living independently.