In early February, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), with dozens of cosponsors, introduced the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) of 2021. Backed by labor unions, opposed by industry groups, and dubbed by Jacobin the “most ambitious labor law reform bill in generations,” the PRO Act has chiefly gotten attention for its import for union organizing. But that’s not all the bill does.
The PRO Act is also concerned with how freelancers like me are classified as workers. As written, it’s intended to force companies to hire us as employees — with all the benefits, like insurance and vacation time, that entails — rather than as independent contractors. That won’t happen. If this legislation passes as-is, it will instead destroy my livelihood by making all my work contracts illegal.
Needless to say, I’m against it. And I’m worried, because the PRO Act has enthusiastic support within the Democratic Party, which controls both houses of Congress. Worse yet, President Biden has explicitly endorsed the exact part of the bill that would put me out of work.
As a contract worker myself — by longstanding preference, I’d add — I’m deeply concerned about this bill becoming law and effectively outlawing my freedom to contract.