The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which would essentially eliminate freelancers and the gig economy. The bill passed 225 to 206. Five Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the act.
Breaking: The House just passed the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, the most significant expansion of labor rights since the New Deal.— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 10, 2021
The vote was 225 to 206. Five Republicans joined Democrats in favor of the bill.
225-206: House passes legislation mainly along party lines to expand union workers' rights and make it easier for workers to unionize. Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act now heads to the Senate. pic.twitter.com/fYtU2lcqku— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) March 10, 2021
Five House Republicans who voted in support of the #PROAct today are the same 5 GOP members who voted in favor of the union workers' rights bill last year:— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) March 10, 2021
Jeff Van Drew-NJ
Don Young-AK https://t.co/tvO15pah3e
The PRO Act was modeled after California's Assembly Bill 5, which destroyed independent contracting positions, like those who drive for Uber, Lyft, and journalists who freelance for various outlets. It essentially eliminates a person's ability to be an entrepreneur and work for themselves.
This bill is one that has brought both sides together in opposition. In fact, a Democratic freelance writer penned an opinion piece in NBC News about the dangers of the bill (emphasis mine):
Right now, my party is pushing a bill called the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, or the PRO Act, in an ostensible bid to help gig workers exploited by employers who won't give them health care coverage and other benefits. But because of a problematic clause in the bill, it's far more con than pro for me. The bill could end my ability to be my own boss, set my own hours and otherwise live the American worker's dream.
The problem with the measure, which is being voted on by the House on Tuesday, is its way of determining who's considered an employee. Instead of using the IRS standard, which can tell the difference between an independent contractor and an employee, it uses a far narrower standard from the 1930s — called the ABC test— that can't.
According to the ABC test, businesses need to treat someone like me as an employee — with all the rights and benefits that entails — even if I'm writing only a single story for them. Ditto for all types of creatives who support themselves through gigs, like actors, artists and musicians. How many companies will continue to use our services under these circumstances? It's simply not feasible.
The five Republicans voting in favor of the bill include Reps. John Kato (NY), Jeff Van Drew (NJ), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), Chris Smith (NJ) and Don Young (AK).
Only one Democrat, Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX), voted against the act.