Biden marks Labor Day by calling on Congress to pass PRO law

In his Labor Day Proclamation on Friday, President Joe Biden called on Congress to “finally” pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which would expand labor protections to make it easier for American workers to organize — including app-based gig workers.

“I believe every worker should have the free and fair choice to organize and bargain collectively with their employer without coercion or intimidation,” the president said. “That’s why I’ve called on Congress to finally pass the [PRO Act].”

The PRO law has been stalled for years. It passed the U.S. House of Representatives in 2019 and 2021, but failed to make it to a vote in the Senate last year. There are few signs that this will happen in this session of Congress as the midterm elections approach.

Among other things, the PRO law could pass a test that would likely require Uber Tehcnologies Inc. UBER,
Lyft Inc. LYFT,
DoorDash Inc. DASH,
and other gig companies to classify their drivers and delivery people as employees instead of independent contractors.

During his presidential campaign, Biden said he would “stop employers who intentionally misclassify their employees as independent contractors.” But his administration has so far done little for gig workers, with activists telling the New York Times in an article published on Friday, they are frustrated with the lack of progress.

Whether gig workers should be employees and able to organize isn’t a strictly partisan issue — there are Democratic lawmakers who oppose the PRO law in the Senate. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Texas, introduced a bill that would allow gig companies to continue to treat employees as independent contractors, and some Democrats have worked to pass compromise legislation that preserves the business model of gigs. gig businesses while promising certain labor protections, such as in Washington state. Additionally, David Weil, a well-known critic of the gig economy and Biden’s nominee to be administrator of the Labor Department’s wage and hour division, was voted out of the Senate, with some Democrats voting against him.

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Biden’s proclamation also lists his administration’s accomplishments on behalf of working people so far, including the recent passage of the CHIPS and Science Act, which is expected to create more jobs in the country.

“I said from the start that I would be the most pro-worker, pro-union president in American history, and I’m keeping that promise,” Biden said.

But some construction workers who took the president’s promises to heart are still waiting.

“We need a law,” Los Angeles-based Rideshare Drivers United organizer Nicole Moore said on Twitter on Friday. “Biden must align [Democrats] & stop the obstruction. Workers demand progress.

About Michael S. Montanez

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