WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the U.S. House prepares to vote on the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act today, Independent Women’s Voice (IWV) hosted a press call highlighting how the bill will harm millions of workers who depend on flexible work arrangements.
Participants on the call included a worker who lost her opportunity for employment because of similar policies (AB5) imposed in California; a California small business owner who had to close her business; and a federal lawmaker who has been at the forefront of calling out how the PRO Act will put union interests above everyday Americans.
Monica Wyman founded RSVP Floral Designs, a small business that makes flower arrangements for weddings and other special events, in 2009. The flexibility of working for herself enabled the California-based mother to contribute to her family’s finances while still being the primary caregiver for her children. In 2016, when she began a three-year battle with breast cancer, that flexibility allowed her to take a step back from her job to focus on recovering. But when she was ready to work again, California’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) had entered the scene.
“I came back from that break only to face AB5 here in California, which basically took away the opportunity for me to continue to hire other workers and to work on my own schedule, around my doctors’ appointments, to schedule events and weddings that I could do when I was feeling well and to have the help I needed,” Wyman said. “It has caused me to basically no longer be able to take those jobs and those hours without knowing that I could hire other freelancers and other workers. So, AB5 has really stripped us of this opportunity to do what we need to do, but still continue to work and contribute to society, to our families, and it’s been a challenge.”
Jennifer O’Connell is a writer, yoga instructor, and a career-reinvention coach. Her world was turned upside down when California passed AB5. Suddenly, Jennifer’s 1099 work that used to make up about three quarters of her income was slashed.
“As a writer, my unique voice and much-needed perspective as a black female has been cut off,” O’Connell said. “With a 35-article submission cap, and the ABC test, the AB5 law cuts freelance writers and journalists like myself off at the knees and chilled any possibility for work from other states. The PRO Act is essentially AB5 on steroids. And if it’s signed into law there’s no place to move in the United States.”
Representative Virginia Foxx (NC), the Republican Leader of the House Committee on Education and Labor, has been outspoken about the threat of the PRO Act for several years now; specifically on the harms that the PRO Act will have on independent contracting and how it will put unions aheads of workers.
“It is unconscionable that Democrats would consider a bill that would take millions from workers’ paychecks, cost employers an estimated $47 billion in new annual cost, infringe on workers’ First Amendment rights, and put small businesses at further risk of closing their doors,” Rep. Foxx said. “You know, if the PRO Act goes into effect it would eliminate the franchise industry and the sharing economy as we know it.”
Patrice Onwuka, director of the Center for Economic Opportunity at Independent Women’s Forum, spoke on the harms that the PRO Act will have on women-owned businesses.
“The PRO Act is not pro-worker, and it’s not pro-woman,” Onwuka said. “This is really about increasing the unions’ powers, their coffers, and their rosters. And it’s unfair for women who are comfortable negotiating the salary or the pay that they want to insert a middleman into that process. Let women decide for themselves who they work for, how much they want to earn, when they want to work, and how they want to work. And when we consider that nearly half of the entire independent contractor workforce nationwide is female, we can see why something like the PRO Act would have a sweeping impact for so many women.”
To listen to the full audio or read the transcript from the press call, click HERE.
Independent Women’s Voice fights for women and families by effectively expanding support among women, independents, and millennials for policy solutions that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance freedom, opportunities, and well-being.