January 17, 2024
By Elise Stefanik and Rick W. Allen
Under the Trump administration, small businesses were booming, the spirit of entrepreneurship was thriving, and the U.S. economy experienced unprecedented growth. As representatives of small business-driven communities, we are alarmed at the Biden administration’s weaponization of the Department of Labor against American entrepreneurs.
American small business owners will tell you that flexibility in the workplace is key to achieving their American Dream. Be it a mom-and-pop shop in Plattsburgh, New York, or a subcontractor in Statesboro, Georgia, our business owners’ investment in our communities rests on their ability to design business models that best suit their lifestyles and businesses. This empowerment leads to more opportunities, greater productivity, and an increase in the overall well-being of our workforce.
Far too often, however, overbearing and misguided federal policies get in the way of good, hard-working Americans simply trying to provide for their families. Once again, President Joe Biden and far-Left Democrats are seeking to hamper job creation, entrepreneurship, and growth in our local communities with a new Labor Department rule that will overly restrict American job creators and devastate millions of workers.
Small business people, from carpenters, electricians, and mechanics to photographers, wedding vendors, and more, rely on the flexibility of the independent contractor model and gig economy to make a living. Unfortunately, President Biden and radical Democrats are seeking to strip this flexibility from the modern worker. Last week, President Biden’s Labor Department finalized an unclear, overly restrictive independent contractor rule that will have devastating impacts on millions of workers and thousands of businesses at a time of record inflation and a stumbling U.S. economy.
Biden’s rule on independent contractors circumvents Congress, the people’s representation, to enact a disastrous policy similar to that in California’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) and the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. AB5, enacted in January 2020, led to countless Californians who were working as freelance employees losing their income mere weeks before the COVID pandemic. The radical PRO Act would take away independent contractors’ ability to work how they see fit. Taking these failed far-Left policies nationwide would devastate millions of American businesses by depriving individuals of entrepreneurial opportunities, the ability to set their own hours, and the flexibility to care for their families the way it suits them.
In a Workforce Protections Subcommittee hearing examining the independent contractor model, Karen Anderson, the founder of Freelancers Against AB5, told stories of the threat that AB5 and similar federal legislation, including the PRO Act, pose 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.”
We will not stand idly by as Biden’s tyrannical administration seeks to take power from the hands of small business owners and entrepreneurs across America. That’s why we are calling for Congress to pass the Employee Rights Act, which will provide essential protections for workers’ rights, choices, and freedoms in the 21st-century economy.
More specifically, the Employee Rights Act includes the Modern Worker Empowerment Act, which would create a clear definition and standard across federal laws to protect independent workers. By creating consistency and clarity with respect to employee and independent contractor status, these bills would provide certainty for workers, job creators, and federal agencies in making classification determinations, ensuring workers’ choice and flexibility is protected from Biden’s independent contractor rule.
The American Dream, while different for everyone, must be attainable for all. Unsurprisingly, far-Left Democrats continue to push severe federal regulations to impose an employment model—and in turn union contracts—on independent workers for political gain. Rather than creating burdensome regulations that pigeonhole workers, our government should be focused on creating policy that empowers American workers and gives them the tools needed to succeed.
Americans overwhelmingly support freedom and flexibility when it comes to running their businesses. It’s time Congress delivers American businesses nationwide a win by adopting the Employee Rights Act.
Read the article in Newsweek here.