NOTE: The following is an update from my several postings regarding the ABC Test and pending legislation that, if passed, will affect all Independent Contractors. Like us.
It’s a good feeling when you can meet head-on with the opposition – lawmakers who regard their constituents as a faceless blob that can be ignored and manipulated. When you actually confront them in the flesh, showing them you are a real, three-dimensional person who would be adversely affected by their wrong-headed policies, you can see in their eyes and demeanor their arrogant confidence being shaken. When challenged with real facts, they cannot resort to the parroting of tired talking points, fake facts, and gross mis- and dis-information. Instead, they are left with mouths agape, speechless.
That is what happened at a roundtable I attended via Zoom on August 31, initiated by Illinois State Representative Suzanne Ness (D), whose purpose was to “elevate the voices” of those who choose to be Independent Contractors (IC) and to draw a clear distinction between what is and isn’t independent contracting. Because of my position in IWOC – and therefore representing the freelance writers of our organization, as well as having been vocal in fighting for the right for freelancers to remain freelancers, I was invited to this meeting by fellow Independent Contractor Marc Avelar (who lives in Rep. Ness’s 66th district), along with “Fight 4 Freelancers” co-founder and dynamo Kim Kavin. Attendees also included IL State Representative and Chairman of the House of Labor & Commerce Committee Marcus Evans, Jr., (D) plus other IC’s, small business owners and representatives of the AFL-CIO, Illinois Dept. of Labor, and Dept. of Commerce & Economic Opportunity.
This is real. This is serious.
If you’re not familiar with the issue, this all has to do with the ABC Test -- a test used to classify employees and Independent Contractors. You probably never heard of it because the mainstream media is not covering it:
In a nutshell, the Biden Administration is attempting to write into national law the same ABC Test that California has used to classify Independent Contractors -- a test that resulted in the loss of livelihoods of tens of thousands of ICs in California. Illinois and other pro-union blue states are in the planning stages of enacting the same ABC Test.
If passed nationwide, it will affect 60 million Independent Contractors. That’s 1/3 of the entire U.S. workforce. This is a group not only comprised of writers of all stripes, but of IC’s representing over 600 fields in all, from CPA’s, lawyers, and Realtors® to truckers, caregivers, pharmacists, translators, videographers, physical therapists, hair stylists and many more. And if you’re not an IC but normally hire ICs (and who doesn’t!), they may not be able to work for you any longer – unless you hire them as your W-2 employee. Please know, this is not a partisan issue. The hundreds of thousands of IC’s who have joined in this fight range from Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump voters. It can and will affect us all.
Now back to the meeting.
Here’s what happened that you might find rather ironic, and that encapsulates this whole situation: The aforementioned Rep. Evans is also an independent licensed real estate appraiser. He confidently mentioned that he has 18 clients, believing that that is what qualifies him as a “legitimate Independent Contractor.” Therefore, the ABC Test in Illinois (that mimics California’s) will have no effect on him. Or so he thought. Immediately Kim Kavin shot back with one stark fact of which she is thoroughly well-versed, saying: “I’m so sorry to tell you, but part B of this ABC Test will put you out of business, too. Welcome to the state of California!” The silence that fell over the room was deafening. Talk about shock and awe. It truly was awesome. Suddenly, a lawmaker is blindsided with the reality of his own policies. How do ya like ‘em now, Mr. Evans!
FYI, Part B says that you are an Independent Contractor if you “perform work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.” Mr. Evans appraises real estate for real estate companies. Same line of business, right? Therefore, his business relationship would be deemed illegal unless his clients hire him as an employee.
Among other withering points we voiced in the meeting that smashed the prejudicial notions of these Powers That Be:
To Representative Ness’s credit, she is the sponsor of Bill HR3441 that seeks to codify guidelines for Independent Contractors to align with the longstanding ABC Test that adheres to the IRS definition – one that has been used as the standard for decades and is fair for all parties involved. Says Ms. Ness, “It is also a way to ensure that those who work as Independent Contractors for a variety of reasons, can continue to do so in an unimpeded way.” Only since California has enacted the more complex version of the ABC Test has all this chaos ensued.
The fight for freelancers has been going on for four years. The hopeful news is: The enactment nationwide of the California-inspired ABC Test is currently being blocked in the Republican-controlled U.S. House, and in the U.S. Senate by all Republicans and AZ Senators Sinema (I) and Kelly (D) and VA Senator Warner (D). That’s a good thing – as long as they all stand their ground. In 2024, if Democrats win majorities in the House, Senate and keep the White House, expect the ABC test to rear its ugly head and be passed. Should Republicans win in all three branches, this whole issue will be dead in the water. However...
Blue states, such as our very own Illinois, can still enact its own rules. Hence the meeting I attended. Our legislators have to know what harm they will be inflicting on nearly 2.8 million Illinois residents who are ICs.
So here’s the deal: IT’S IMPORTANT YOU VOICE YOUR OPPOSITION TO THE ABC TEST. With very little effort, you can make a giant impact. Choose any or all of the following for a course of action, and also to equip yourself with accurate information:
1. Contact (email, phone, or visit) your Illinois Senator and Representative. As Kim Kavin advises: Let them know that if they wipe out your business, you’ll see to it that they lose their job, as you will not be voting for them. Be frank. Ask them if they want to hurt you by destroying the way you choose to work. They’ll always say no, they don’t want to hurt you. It will make them see you as a real person whose life can actually be harmed by their decisions. Hopefully, they’ll have the political courage to not pass this destructive bill. Tell them to instead, support Bill HR3441.
2. View the very short videos at https://fightforfreelancersusa.com/videos/ They’ll tell you everything
3. Join the Facebook group Fight for Illinois Freelancers to stay locally informed.
4. Here’s an easy outline of what you can do.
5. https://fightforfreelancersusa.com gives you the background of this battle, the latest news and more.
6. Watch “Right to be Independent Contractors,” a 1-hour podcast that really lays it all out in a discussion between Kim Kavin, Karen Anderson (Freelancers Against AB5), Mike Hruby (New Jobs America), and Steve, Rideshare Rodeo podcast host.
7. Amicus Brief presented by Fight For Freelancers to the National Labor Relations Board. You can go to pg. 6 to read the summary, followed by the argument.
We are in the fight of our (freelance) lives and livelihoods. We must remain Independent Writers of Chicago. Thank you for taking action.
-- Laura Stigler
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