Bureaucratic Scheme Would Criminalize Independent Contracting
After his party lost control of the U.S. House of Representatives last fall, President Joe Biden’s hopes of corralling millions of workers into unions via nationwide Right to Work repeal legislation were dashed.
But the self-styled “most pro-union president in history” has no plans to stop shaking down workers on behalf of Big Labor.
That’s why his administration now seems determined to federalize bureaucratically a California statute so economically destructive that the state’s politicians have already been forced to curtail its scope.
Since it took effect in 2020, California’s A.B. (Assembly Bill) 5 has reclassified ride-share drivers, independent truckers, and other freelance workers as “payroll employees.”
Many if not most of these workers strongly preferred flexible independent contracting arrangements over payroll employment. But Big Labor politicians still claimed to be doing them a favor.
Their real goal, of course, was to boost Big Labor revenues by recasting hundreds of thousands of independent contractors who could not be forced under union monopoly control as “employees” who could be.
Big Labor Bill Backfired In Golden State
Independent workers have fought back furiously against A.B.5. Ride-share drivers secured an exemption from the law through a ballot initiative, but it was challenged by Big Labor in court and could be rescinded.
Even union-label state legislators acknowledge A.B.5 has caused many problems. They have since passed several measures to “clarify” that the law does not apply to doctors, lawyers, and other politically-connected professions. To date, the Legislature has exempted over 100 professions from A.B.5’s rules, but so far it has refused to scrap the ill-advised policy altogether.
Independent truckers brought their own court challenge, but it petered out last summer. Consequently, since January 1, truck owner-operators have been subject to A.B.5’s dictates.
Effectively, they are being forced either to stop working in California or to become employees of large shipping companies and give up their independent work schedules.
And in many cases, working for big firms also means submission to a union monopoly-bargaining regime largely run by union bosses who demand dues money for their “services” whether workers want them or not.
Truckers often became owner-operators precisely because they wanted to escape union-negotiated, one-size-fits-all work arrangements. They own their own rigs and selectively accept jobs based on when they want to work.
Truckers have responded to A.B.5 by fleeing the state. Trucker shortages have exacerbated backlogs at California’s ports, disrupting supply chains across the country. Many merchants have already begun the costly process of permanently shifting their importing and exporting to ports in other states.
This economic fallout is probably worse than California’s Big Labor politicians were anticipating. No wonder even union-boss-dominated states like New York and New Jersey have refused to copy A.B.5.
As business flows out of the Golden State, the pressure will continue to mount to repeal A.B.5 — unless the Biden Administration succeeds in taking California’s failure nationwide.
Biden Bureaucrats Will Do Anything to Serve President’s Union-Boss Overlords
This year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which is currently dominated by Biden appointees, is poised to issue one or more decisions that would significantly narrow who is allowed to work as an independent contractor. Many existing flexible work arrangements could thus be outlawed.
“This is one of many examples of President Biden using his handpicked bureaucrats to implement union boss giveaways that couldn’t pass congressional muster,” charged Matthew Leen, vice president of the National Right to Work Committee.
“It goes to show that the Biden team will do anything, and trample the rights of any worker, to serve the President’s union boss overlords.”
Mr. Leen vowed that Right to Work legislative staff would be working throughout 2023 with likeminded members of Congress to prepare and bring forward appropriations measures blocking the NLRB from foisting A.B.5 on workers and businesses across the country by bureaucratic fiat.