The right to earn a living in America is in danger. The latest U.S. Department of Labor Independent Contractor rule severely restricts the ability of American workers to practice their profession as they see fit.
America has been a land of opportunity because citizens are empowered to pursue happiness in their own way. This means being able to pursue your own calling; to be a maker, a builder, a creator; to take your God-given talents, nurture them with heart and soul, and offer them to the world. In this way, the Biden Administration’s radical new Labor regulation is an attack on the very foundation of the American Dream. It is part of a concerted effort to limit or eliminate the gig economy, freelancing, independent contracting, self-employment, and alternate work arrangements that entire careers are based on and entire industries have been built around.
Make no mistake: the livelihoods of millions of Americans are at risk. We know that because we’ve already seen the consequences of this policy in California. Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su, who has been unable to win Senate confirmation and whose entire tenure is under a legal cloud, was the architect of California’s disastrous Assembly Bill 5. That law is one of the most anti-worker pieces of legislation in U.S. history. It led to layoffs, limited opportunities for flexible work, and decreased chances for individuals to pursue supplemental income – upending the careers of countless Californians. California’s AB 5 is a warning, not a model for the nation. Yet Biden and Julie Su are now seeking to nationalize it, without so much as a vote of Congress.
Over 70 million Americans choose independent work over a W-2 employment relationship. They do so for a variety of reasons. Independent contracting offers flexibility to set your own schedule and work on your own terms. It allows freedom and flexibility that many prefer and many others need because of personal circumstances. It lowers barriers to entering the workforce for those who would otherwise have difficulty such as parents of infants or young children, seniors, and individuals with disabilities. Independent work arrangements also provide a pathway to supplemental earnings for people who have multiple income sources. Forcing all of these workers into solely traditional employment would take away their ability to earn a living in the manner that works best for them and their families.
Beyond the far-reaching harms to workers, Biden’s new Labor rule will also threaten countless businesses and harm the consumers who depend on their products and services. Small businesses, in particular, often work with a variety of independent contractors to perform discrete tasks that are not well-suited or economically compatible with an employer-employee relationship. AB 5, once again, is instructive; it shuttered small businesses and non-profits, depriving Californians of services ranging from translation to tutoring to reporting. If this policy is implemented nationwide, similar havoc will result.
AB 5 offers a warning to the nation. It is one reason California has ranked first or second in the country when it comes to unemployment and poverty, and last in the country in wage growth. Congress must reject the nationalization of AB 5 and protect the diverse range of work arrangements that contribute to the American economy. We must oppose the ongoing attacks on worker freedom and ensure that worker preferences and autonomy are accounted for in all policy decisions. More than ever, we must support the right of enterprising Americans to pursue their calling as they see fit. To that end, I am introducing legislation to nullify Biden’s Independent Contractor rule, and urge all Members of Congress to support it.
Kevin Patrick Kiley is an American politician, attorney, and former educator serving as the U.S. representative for California's 3rd congressional district since 2023. A member of the Republican Party, he represented the 6th district in the California State Assembly from 2016 to 2022.