It’s easy to lose track of what month we’re on, but the Democrats are continuing their tedious campaign to pass the multi-trillion-dollar “Build Back Better” bill.
As a quick refresher, the bill includes a massive healthcare component—larger than even Obamacare in its scale and cost—plus a vast number of regulations and corporate welfare funding dressed up as climate change policy. And in some versions, the Build Back Better plan included the PRO Act, a union-backed bill that would limit American workers’ ability to freelance.
Though the most recent legislation has pulled many of these components out, it’s important to know they’re still on the table. The question remains whether Democrats put the language back in the bill, try to pass the PRO Act again as separate legislation, or if the Biden Administration instead attempts to implement its goals through executive order.
The talking points on Build Back Better are almost as bad as its contents.
Kamala Harris has been caught outright lying to the American people, repeatedly assuring them that the multi-trillion-dollar bill’s price tag is actually zero and will cost taxpayers nothing. (Ma’am, what?) For his part, Bernie Sanders is making the rounds promising his healthcare provisions will make healthcare more affordable (they’d actually increase Medicare premiums). And the entire lot of them keep gaslighting voters about the impact the PRO Act would have on the American workforce.
As far as the PRO Act goes, we already know exactly how it would play out if the full version is implemented. We don’t have to guess based on politicians’ spin: we’ve already seen a smaller model of it in California. The state legislation restricting freelancing that congressional Democrats pulled from to craft the PRO Act, AB 5, went into effect in the Golden State in early 2020.
Unions wanted this bill desperately. And as we all know, when the unions say jump the Democrats listen.
They moved this legislation forward in California to restrict the growing number of people who freelance in the state. Why? Because unions are at their lowest membership rates of all time.
The vast majority of people simply do not want to join a union, plain and simple. And in the 28 states where legislatures have passed what’s known as “Right to Work” bills, workers cannot be forced to join a union, either. So, unions need money and force. And since Democratic politicians get huge donations from unions, they’re providing the force.
AB5 basically said that a worker could not be considered an independent contractor (aka freelancer) unless the service they provided was outside a company’s normal range of operations. So, for example, a newspaper could contract with a painter to re-do their office, but could not pay a freelance journalist to write a weekly article. Under this structure, companies would have to bring workers in-house, and in California (which has not passed Right to Work laws), those workers could then be forced into the company’s union. You get the scheme now, right?
Of course, AB 5’s ramifications were swift and severe.
Just as anyone who knew anything about basic econ warned, the legislation wrought havoc on the California labor market. Obviously, companies couldn’t afford to hire all of the people they contracted with full-time, so jobs were inevitably lost. It also led to a lower quality of life for workers, denying them flexibility at a time when, increasingly, Americans want to work from home, make their own schedules, and have more freedom.
Thousands of contractors lost their jobs in California before the year had even passed. Uber and Lyft mounted an expensive ballot campaign to overturn parts of the bill, and voters came out in droves to overturn it. A lawsuit—by the unions, against the voters—was then filed.
While California has been in chaos trying to sort out the casualties of this bill, congressional Democrats wasted no time trying to implement it federally. In fact, should they be unsuccessful in passing it through Congress, the Biden Administration has also been working with its Labor Department to push parts of it through via executive order. (So much for respecting the will of the people!)
Democrats continue to claim that this bill merely gives workers the right to join a union, and that it would not cause anyone to lose their jobs or harm the economy. Given these factors, we know that they know this is a lie. They just don’t care.
And it could soon get even worse. In California, truckers are still fighting for their livelihoods in a lawsuit that asks the state to exempt their industry from AB5’s standards. You see, most truckers are independent contractors who own their own rigs, and they’d like to keep it that way. The Teamsters, an infamous union known for its thug-like tactics, has asked the court to deny their motion. For now, the injunction has held, but the verdict is not final and the case could be heading to the Supreme Court.
Should the Teamsters get their way, it is quite easy to see how AB5 could cause our already existing supply-chain shortage to become even worse.
In fact, many signs indicate that just the threat of AB5 has already led some truckers to pack up and haul out of the state. Given that a large number of the country’s ports are in California, this spells disaster for our supply chain, which is already under siege thanks to various idiotic government policies over the past two years. But as should be abundantly clear from this quick history lesson, this doesn’t matter to most congressional Democrats—they’re cowed by unions’ power and money.
In the US, unions only ever secure higher wages for their workers by limiting the number of jobs, stopping automation and innovation, and as a whole making our economy poorer and slower. This is nothing new. It’s up to Americans to finally stand up to these bullies once and for all and make sure this mess doesn’t spread beyond California’s borders.