By: Tom Hebert
Senator Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) told a reporter that he is open to passing parts of the anti-worker “Protecting the Right to Organize” (PRO) Act through budget reconciliation and supports the “overall goals” of the bill. The PRO Act would impose a nationwide ban on Right to Work, forcing every Arizona worker to join a union whether they want to or not.
Kelly has been one of three Democratic Senate holdouts on the PRO Act. If Kelly reverses course and supports the PRO Act, it would be a devastating blow to Arizona’s freelancers and franchises.
The PRO Act would dismantle the franchise business model by expanding the definition of “joint employer,” increasing corporate control over mom-and-pop independent franchise locations. Franchises employ 7.6 million Americans nationwide.
Arizona has 14,500 franchise businesses that support 153,300 jobs. Franchises provide $5.5 billion a year in payroll and contribute $8.2 billion a year to Arizona’s economy. 80 percent of Arizona voters view franchises favorably, and 71 percent of Arizona voters say that franchise businesses are a part of their everyday lives. 30 percent of franchises are minority owned, as opposed to 20 percent of non-franchised businesses.
The PRO Act also endangers Arizona’s freelancers by codifying an onerous three-step test that would force independent contractors to reclassify as W-2 employees. Independent contractors come in all shapes and sizes – the Uber you took this week had a freelancer behind the wheel, and your favorite Etsy store is run by an independent contractor. Medical transcriptionists, court stenographers, nurse practitioners, comedians, ballroom dancers, interpreters, and architectural designers often work as freelancers.
Freelancers overwhelmingly prefer the freedom and flexibility of freelancing to the rigidity of traditional employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fewer than one in 10 independent contractors want to reclassify as W-2 employees. The PRO Act would jeopardize the livelihoods of the 59 million Americans that engage in freelance work.
Finally, the PRO Act would endanger the privacy of every Arizona worker. The PRO Act forces employers to hand over sensitive employee contact information – including shift information, home addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers – to union bosses during organizing efforts. This would allow union bosses to intimidate Arizona workers at home or workplaces at all hours of the day.
If Kelly votes for the PRO Act, union bosses would win and Arizona workers would lose.