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Biden rule would harm gig workers

 

Inflation not seen in 40 years. Higher interest rates. Unemployment rising. A recession getting worse every day. One would have thought the White House would be shy about further damaging the economy. Especially with Democrats expecting to lose control of the House of Representatives on Nov. 8.

Instead, reported the Wall Street Journal, “The Biden administration is proposing a new rule that could put more gig workers on company payrolls, scrapping a Trump administration rule from 2021 that made it easier for firms to classify workers as independent contractors.”

The proposal “would affect millions of workers across a range of industries, including healthcare, restaurants, construction and ride-share transportation, the Labor Department said.” The new rule “could lead to a push to classify drivers for ride-share or food delivery companies such as Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. or DoorDash Inc. as employees rather than gig workers.” It’s supposedly needed to protect these workers under federal labor law.

It would be similar to California’s Assembly Bill 5, signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2019. AB 5 was so bad that in 2020 the Legislature itself passed a modification, Assembly Bill 2257, carving out some professions. And in November 2020, voters passed Proposition 22 by 59% to 41%, exempting Lyft and Uber from AB 5. That’s now in the court system. What a mess.

Especially with gig work taking off during the COVID-19 pandemic, as millions of people worked from home and liked it, the Biden administration action makes no sense. The arguments against this rule are the same as those against AB 5: It removes the flexibility gig workers enjoy with these jobs. A full-time job at a fixed location isn’t the ideal situation for millions of people.

Students looking to avoid college debt; a senior looking to supplement Social Security; a stay-home spouse raising the kids but needing a little extra cash; a moonlighter looking to pay off credit cards — all benefit from working short hours at sometimes odd times.

If this rule is so important to the Biden administration, it should wait until January and put it before the new Congress.

Let voters have their say first.

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