Joe Biden Opposes Independent Contractors

Nationwide Replay of California Disaster Could Be the Result

Politicians led by Gavin Newsom sickened California’s economy. Will Biden-Harris infect the whole U.S.? (Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, Pool)

This January, California’s A.B.5, a massive expansion of forced unionism that seeks to rob 1.5 million independent contractors in the Golden State of their workplace freedoms, went into effect.

In 2019, Sacramento lawmakers rubber-stamped A.B.5, and Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom signed it, ignoring warnings from the National Right to Work Committee about the harmful impact it would have.

Under A.B.5, independent contractors, including truck owner-operators, therapists, artists, musicians and writers, as well as drivers for Uber and Lyft, have been reclassified as “employees.”

Consequently, these workers are now vulnerable to union monopoly bargaining, and being forced to pay dues, or be fired.

The results so far have been disastrous.

Vast numbers of formerly independent workers are angrily protesting the loss of their flexibility and freedom. Moreover, the sharp economic contraction stemming from COVID-19 and political efforts to contain it has hit California harder than practically any other state.

Of course, none of this matters much to union bosses, who see the millions of independent contractors nationwide as prime targets to grow their forced-dues ranks and fill union coffers.

So-Called ‘Benefits’ Make ‘Zero Sense For Freelancers Like Me’

Since A.B.5 was originally adopted just over a year ago, union lobbyists have aggressively pushed for passage of similar legislation in Big Labor-dominated Illinois, New Jersey,  and New York.

National Right to Work has opposed such legislation. And no such bill has yet become law, outside of California, thanks to unexpectedly intense public opposition.

In an illuminating article published in the August-September issue of Reason magazine, editor and freelance writer Kim Kavin told about why she has become a leader in the movement to prevent anti-independent contractor legislation from passing in New Jersey, where she lives. 

The so-called A.B.5 “benefits” touted by Big Labor and its allies, wrote Ms. Kavin, make “zero sense to freelancers like me.” She explained:

“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?”

Far from bringing freelancers like her “benefits,” continued Ms. Kavin, an A.B.5-style rewrite of New Jersey labor law would do “exactly what it has in California and at publishing houses such as Hearst: make our clients afraid to work with . . . contractors at all.”

The decimation of contract work undoubtedly contributed to the 13.1% decline in seasonally-adjusted employment in California from January to July, a plummet over 60% greater than the national average.

California has suffered extraordinary economic devastation even though its COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths have both been lower than the national average.

Big Labor Politicians in Washington, D.C., Seem Heedless of A.B.5 Debacle

Unfortunately, union-label politicians inside the D.C. Beltway, unlike their counterparts in Springfield, Trenton and Albany, have shown no reluctance whatsoever to foist an A.B.5-like scheme on their constituents, despite the ongoing debacle in California.

This February, pro-forced unionism Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) House of Representatives green-lighted omnibus labor legislation (H.R.2474) including provisions that would reclassify independent contractors nationwide as “employees,” and thus pave the way for them to be corralled into unions. 

Moreover, Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden, who was leading President Donald Trump in most polls as this Newsletter edition went to press, has publicly pledged to support federalizing A.B.5 if he is elected in November.

And Mr. Biden’s running mate, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), is currently a cosponsor of H.R.2474’s Senate companion, S.1306.

National Right to Work Vice President Greg Mourad expressed his dismay at the Biden-Harris ticket’s opposition to independence for contractors:

“These people are private citizens, conducting private business. It is wrong to pretend they are somebody’s employees just so some union boss can collect tribute out of these private citizens’ incomes.”