The U.S. House last week passed a bill that could be the biggest overhaul to labor law in decades if it can clear the Senate and reach President Joe Biden. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act, known as the PRO Act, contains a number of provisions that would make it easier for workers to organize. The bill, for instance, would change the definition of “employee,” allowing millions of gig workers such as rideshare drivers the right to organize and form a union. That provision has led some Republican lawmakers to call the law a federal version of California’s Assembly Bill 5, a landmark labor law passed in 2019 that required businesses to give employment benefits to more workers. “Even worse, the PRO Act will bring to every state California’s AB 5, which destroyed numerous jobs by denying work to independent contractors,” Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Temecula, tweeted last week. “To take a reckless job killer like AB 5 and extend it across America is to make one state’s mistake the entire nation’s crisis.” Issa’s claim about the PRO Act is inaccurate. Unlike AB 5, the PRO Act does not regulate employees’ wages and benefits, meaning companies won’t suddenly have to pay for new perks to those who are being reclassified. “There has been a good deal of online hype that the PRO Act uses the ABC test to create a national worker classification law. To be clear, it does not,” a writer’s group the Author’s Guild wrote March 11. “It amends the federal labor law that provides collective bargaining rights and governs the National Labor Relations Board, and nothing else.” Claim: The PRO Act will bring California’s AB 5 nationwide, Issa and other Republican lawmakers say. Rating: False Details: The California Supreme Court issued a ruling in 2018 adopting what is known as the ABC test to define independent contractors. AB 5 in 2019 codified the ruling, which is referred to as the Dynamex decision. The test has three prongs that must be met for a worker to be considered an independent contractor. Otherwise, the person would be considered an employee eligible for benefits:
- The individual is free from control and direction in connection with the performance of the service, both under the contract for the performance of service and in fact;
- The service is performed outside the usual course of the business of the employer; and
- The individual is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession, or business of the same nature as that involved in the service performed.