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Are We About to Lose Our Independence? | President's Post by Laura Stigler

27 Feb 2024 3:42 PM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

After enjoying a successful career as a freelance writer for over 30 years, could I wake up and suddenly find my clients gone without a trace? Naw! Not in an America where Independent Contractors (ICs) have been freely choosing how they work and live ever since the Declaration of Independence was penned. 

Yet the nightmare of finding our way of life ripped out from under us is about to become a reality. On March 11, the US Department of Labor (USDOL) is launching the  “Classification of Employees and Independent Contractors Under the Fair Labor Standards Act.” 

That regulation is modeled after California’s AB5 law, passed in 2019. As a result of AB5’s reclassification of Independent Contractors as employees, the careers of 4.5 million Independent Contractors and entrepreneurs were destroyed – despite a rescue plan of numerous carve-outs.

All the destruction that AB5 has inflicted on the Golden State can now spread its tentacles nationwide to affect 72+ million Independent Contractors. That's almost 45% of the U.S. workforce, according to MBO Partners. Freelancers in over 600 different fields will be fair game -- everyone from CPA’s, caregivers, hair stylists, landscapers, physical therapists and translators, to graphic artists, writers of all stripes, real estate appraisers, dental hygienists, truckers, musicians, and bookkeepers. To name a few.

Bluntly put, our business is none of the USDOL’s business. What have we IC’s done to deserve this? Absolutely nothing. In fact...

  • According to the Pew Research Center, the majority of self-employed workers (62%) say they are extremely or very satisfied with their job, compared to (51%) those who are not self-employed.
  • From Upwork: 74% of ICs say freelancing has given them greater control over their life, while other benefits include attention to their physical health and work-life balance.

Given those stats, why are we being force-fed a “solution” for what was never a problem in the first place?

Turns out, a groundswell of pushback is erupting: U.S. Representative Kevin Kiley (R-CA) and U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R- LA) will be using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to attempt to repeal the rule. On January 16th,  Fight for Freelancers USA co-founders have filed the first suit against the USDOL. More suits are following. Ultimately, the rule will be catastrophic to the entire U.S. economy, no doubt necessitating SCOTUS involvement. But that doesn’t mean we can all sit back and hope for the best.

Time is of the essence. The time to act is now. With the USDOL regulation ready to pounce on March 11, it is imperative we all voice our opposition to this deleterious rule by contacting our U.S. Congressional representatives. Tell your U.S. Rep and both your U.S. Senators to support Senator Cassidy’s and Rep. Kiley’s Congressional Review Act that will stop the USDOL rule in its tracks. You can even make it personal in how the rule would/could affect your business.

Even if you’re not an Independent Contractor, you most likely work with or hire them, considering the hundreds of professions ICs represent. Do you really want your hard-earned tax dollars going towards the enforcement of rules that will wipe out millions of jobs and small businesses? 

The clue here is in the name. Think “opposite.” Because there is nothing fair about the “Classification of Employees and Independent Contractors Under the Fair Labor Standards Act.” It is patently unfair. And downright un-American.

-- Laura Stigler 

P.S. Please plan to attend IWOC's Special Meeting on Tuesday, April 16, when Employment Attorney Lori Goldstein will be discussing the USDOL rule, how it can affect you and how you may be able to protect your business.

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