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This Labor Day, Stand with 59M American Freelancers

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

The American worker is an integral part of our economic fabric. On this Labor Day, however, many are underserved by our elected officials. 

How so? Today, they worry future opportunities will disappear if right-to-work is abolished and if public sector unions become more entangled in business affairs. 

Naturally, President Joe Biden threw another bone to his Big Labor buddies pledging continued support for the PRO Act. His Labor Day proclamation, in part, reads like this

 American workers should make their own decisions –- free from coercion and intimidation — about organizing with their co-workers to have a stronger voice in their workplaces, their communities, and their government.  That is why I strongly support the Protecting the Right to Organize Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act.  It is also why I created the Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, and asked Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Labor Martin Walsh to serve as its chair and vice chair.

Don’t allow labor unions to monopolize Labor Day. Let’s stand with 59 million American freelancers instead.

What the American Worker Look Like Today

Many on the Left—and even some on our side— have a warped view of American workers.

They view them as exploited, helpless individuals in need of rescuing by labor unions. That couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Thirty-six percent of the U.S. workforce, or 59 million Americans, now partake in flexible or gig work. Their total economic valuation is $1.2 trillion. In contrast, union membership comprises 10.8 percent of the U.S. workforce. Hence the eagerness by Democrats and their labor buddies to artificially boost unions despite their waning influence. 

This is 2021, not the 1930s. Workers aren’t exploited and now prefer to opt-out of unions. Even unionized workers are happier and more fulfilled living in right-to-work states. 

Moreover, the ‘Great Resignation’ afoot could witness 10 million more workers entering the freelance economy. As Business Insider explains

Applying the report's findings to Gallup data, 10 million Americans are projected to be seriously considering the move to freelance. Of those who already plan on quitting their current full-time jobs, 52% are considering the move to freelancing.  The main incentive: flexibility.

Why Americans Are Choosing Freelancing

Seeing the workforce undergo a transformation is scary to some. 

Nevertheless, moving from 9-to-5 jobs to flexible work arrangements should be celebrated. In fact, it’s pro-free market, pro-freedom, and pro-family. 

This lifestyle affords workers flexibility to determine work hours, maintain multiple clients, and balance career and family life better. Plus, their earning potential is limitless and not capped by one employer.

Even Generation Z and Millennials are inclining themselves to this arrangement. Per the New York Times

As newer generations enter the workforce, millennials and Gen Z in particular, they’ve seen that the contract for employment is broken and say, “That’s not for me.” They have a much more kind of empowered idea around how they’re going to build their careers that’s much more autonomous and not related to a single firm. It’s much more about skills that they have, portfolios that they’re building. They feel like that’s where they have safety and security. Being tethered to a single employer actually feels more risky to them.

Furthermore, self-employed workers who comprise the gig economy are reportedly four times wealthier than traditional workers: 

A new release from the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy finds that self-employed people are, on average, wealthier than their non-self-employed peers. Specifically, the median net worth for self-employed families was $380,000 in 2019; for the families of workers it was $90,000 — meaning that self-employed families had a net worth over four times larger than their peers in the workforce.

The PRO Act Threatens Flexible Work Arrangements

As I’ve written before here and here at Townhall.com, the PRO Act is the biggest threat to the gig economy. 

It’ll forcibly reclassify workers as default employees instead of independent contractors. It seeks to also abolish right-to-work and make employment conditional on union membership. Talk about a lose-lose situation for a large swath of American workers. 


I’m encouraged to see 2021 Republican nominees for Governor, Glenn Youngkin of Virginia and Jack Ciattarelli of New Jersey, openly tout their opposition to forced unionization, respectively. 

Youngkin’s “Day One” plan states “Protecting Virginians from Forced Unionization” as a top priority. Ciattarelli has similarly pledged, "New Jersey workers deserve the freedom to decide their own employment arrangements. They don’t need - or want - big government to limit their dreams of being an entrepreneur, or hinder the high-earning potential that independent, self-employed work can bring. Many independent contractors are women and seniors who choose self-employment to have the freedom to set their own hours and the flexibility to accommodate their many responsibilities. We should respect their decision on what is best for them and their families.” 

Building off of Labor Day, Republicans and reasonable Democrats must openly support America’s 59 million flexible workers. To tout unionization via the PRO Act is in conflict with conservatism and will alienate blue collar workers. 


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