Rep. Michelle Steel (R-CA) issued the following statement in response to a Department of Labor proposed rulemaking to redefine the definition of an “independent contractor,” which would restrict the earning potential of 50 million Americans who have chosen independent work. The proposed rule would return to the Obama Administration’s rigid and narrow definition of independent work and subject more workers to restrictions imposed by “employee” designations. This would raise costs on employers and directly impact worker flexibility.
“There are more than 2 million independent contractors and entrepreneurs across California, and the Administration would be foolish to kneecap them by returning to this unworkable Obama-era policy,” said Rep. Steel. “As Americans are struggling to make ends meet under the crippling weight of the inflation this Administration caused, we should be giving workers more flexibility and opportunity to earn, not tying their hands and imposing union-backed restrictions on how and when they can work.”
You can read more about the proposed rule here. The proposed rule is similar to California’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5), which was introduced in Congress as the PRO Act. Last year, Rep. Steel questioned Labor Secretary Marty Walsh about the PRO Act, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives on March 9, 2021, and could cost employers up to $47 billion, create less flexibility for workers, and nationalize some of California’s worst liberal policies. The PRO Act would nationalize the ‘ABC Test’ seen in California that makes it harder for workers to define themselves as independent contractors. This would negatively impact millions of jobs across the country and take away workers’ flexibility to do their jobs. Rep. Steel spoke on the House Floor and penned an Op-ed with fellow committee member Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT) against this legislation in March.
Rep. Steel has been an outspoken advocate for independent workers and has taken the following actions in Congress to advance worker flexibility
- Introduced the Modern Worker Empowerment Act to fix outdated labor laws and give contractors and entrepreneurs the flexibility to thrive in the modern workforce.
- Introduced the Worker Flexibility and Choice Act to create a new work arrangement that combines the flexibility of independent work with certain workplace protections and opportunity for additional benefits.
- Sent a letter to Governor Newsom urging him to take immediate action to repeal AB 5, which unworkably redefines independent contractors, and would devastate California’s supply chains due to the harmful restrictions impacting independent truckers.