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Hearing Recap: Independent Contractors Edition

Today’s Workforce Protections Subcommittee hearing featured a six-witness panel covering the Biden administration’s multi-pronged assault on the livelihoods of millions of independent contractors across America.

Subcommittee Chair Kevin Kiley’s (R-CA) opening statement highlighted the similarities of his home state’s failed policies to the Biden administration’s actions, such as the proposed Department of Labor (DOL) rule and nomination of Julie Su.

“In its current condition, California is the last place that should be a bellwether for political change in America,” said Chair Kiley. “Yet that is exactly how President Biden seems to see it, as his Administration attempts to nationalize California’s most damaging policies, exporting our state’s failures to every state in the union.”

The California law in question is AB 5. Its failures are well-documented, so current federal proposals mirroring it in spirit and letter could spell disaster for the American economy. Thankfully, freelancers are speaking up.

In her opening statement, Republican-invited witnesses Karen Anderson, the Founder of Freelancers Against AB 5, told stories of the threat that AB 5 and similar federal legislation poses to independent contractors. “I received stories about children’s theaters closing; local bar bands ceasing to perform; professional Santas being laid off; writers being let go from publications; and court reporters suddenly without assignments,” said Ms. Anderson. “To name a few.”

In the Q&A session, Committee Republicans chose to keep focusing on the personal, human consequences of Democrat proposals. Rep. Eric Burlison (R-MO) knows these consequences firsthand, as the representative for a woman named Dee Silva who moved to his community from California after AB 5 destroyed her career in California as a truck driver.

Rep. Burlison said, “I think it’s demeaning to this woman, who is a minority businessowner, who is successful - has been extremely successful - for us to basically jerk her around and make her up[end] her family and move to an entirely new state because we want to get more people on union dues.”

Democrat anti-worker proposals like the PRO Act and the DOL proposed rule also have a ruinous effect on the economy that should not be overlooked. Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) got to the heart of the economic projections with his line of questioning.

DOL has projected its rule that reclassifies independent contractors as employees would only cost the American economy in its first year of implementation. Grothman questioned, “Do you find Labor’s cost assessment of this rule to be realistic?”

Dr. Liya Palagashvili, Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center, answered, “They actually implicitly assumed in their analysis that 100 percent of impacted jobs - contracting jobs - would automatically turn into employment jobs. That is unrealistic. It’s not grounded in any economics research.”

Not only are Democrat policies bad for independent contractors, but they are also bad for the entire American economy.

Bottom Line: Committee Republicans are standing strong with independent contractors amidst the Democrat assault on their livelihoods.
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