Big labor’s attacks on the gig economy are anti-worker 

The first days of the epidemic were a difficult time. But as days turned into weeks and months, those moments often brought out the best in people—Zoom calls with old friends, birthday car shows—and they always inspired business acumen.

Employers have developed ways to work together. For example, some have restructured their business to produce personal protective equipment and other essential equipment. People started small businesses, and many found opportunities to earn a living in the booming economy, including using technologies such as app-based transportation or delivery services.

We have almost overlooked how these technologies have helped users on both sides of the business. For example, people who can’t or don’t want to leave their homes can still shop through Instacart or check out their favorite restaurants using DoorDash. And people who are looking for work or extra income, or whose lifestyles or schedules are not conducive to regular work, can earn good money as an independent contractor through an app-based service, setting their own schedule and often using multiple apps at a time. immediately.

Even though the workplace was reopened, the interest in software-based work was clear: flexibility and autonomy were very important. The number of gig workers continued to grow even as the number of open jobs increased. WHYY explored this in their December 2021 article “Number of women exercising in Philly area spikes during COVID-19.”

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Despite the benefits that software-based platforms provide to employees, customers, and communities, they are under attack in Pennsylvania and around the country. Why? Because one component, the organized labor, is not benefiting directly.

Executives are pushing policies around the country and in Pennsylvania that would force all software workers to work traditional jobs, as opposed to the current freelance model that allows for flexibility and the ability to use multiple programs. The Pennsylvania Chamber recently joined hundreds of organizations that oppose a large-scale job-sponsored proposal related to the gig economy and led the charge in response to similar proposals presented by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry Task Force that focuses on ‘supervised by senior staff.

Do senior staff want to support independent contractors? It doesn’t look like it. Workers rejected a recent proposal that would have guaranteed unemployment and other benefits to workers. The challenge for Labor is that they are seeing the growth of the gig economy but they have no idea how to slow down the process. And if they can’t benefit, no one should.

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The biggest challenge for all of us is that the continued massive effort to rewrite independent contractor laws — including in Pennsylvania — will affect people beyond the programmatic economy. For example, trucking companies have become a good option for independent drivers who have their own car, prefer to work for themselves, work with several companies, and maintain their independence in most cases while working as an employee. Enforcing redundant work arrangements could drive truck drivers out of business, increase truck shortages, overcrowding, and increase costs for consumers.

Likewise, freelance writers, artists, and other creative professionals have been working as independent contractors as a great way to combine their business and artistic skills. The ideas of Big Labor’s independent contractors can affect the business these people choose for their work.

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Unfortunately, this anti-freelance campaign has been misguidedly launched as one way of trying to combat “worker instability”—a term used to describe unscrupulous, negligent, or wrongful employers who choose workers as independent contractors when, by law, they should be as employees.

All stakeholders – policymakers, regulators, employers, organizations, and others – must cooperate to combat employee harassment by working with employers to ensure compliance, train employees, and deal with business fraudsters. But they also need to work together to protect independent business processes that are legal and beneficial to all stakeholders.

The Pennsylvania Chamber is ready to cooperate with anyone who wishes to respond reality distracting employees. At the same time, we oppose the attack on freelancers and the gig economy and urge lawmakers to reject their misguided campaign.

Alex Halper is the vice president of state affairs for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.


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