President Biden and Democrats Moving Full Speed Ahead on Plan to Pass I/C Wipeout Bill
Washington D.C. – President Biden and Democratic leaders are moving full speed ahead on their plan to pass a bill many trucking groups warn will lead to the wipeout of hundreds of thousands of independent contractors.
Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed the controversial Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act most trucking groups say will ultimately destroy the industry’s leased owner-operator model.
The PRO Act then moved to the U.S. Senate where it faced much longer odds because normal rules require 60 votes for passage.
It quickly became clear Democrats would not be able to cobble together the 60 votes needed, so they devised another plan.
President Biden and Democratic leaders rolled the PRO Act into their $2.25 trillion infrastructure proposal known as the American Jobs Plan.
A $953 billion bipartisan infrastructure spending agreement reached last week does NOT include the PRO Act or a long list of other Democrat agenda items such as climate initiatives, urban housing, child care benefits and much more.
However, recent comments by President Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) leave no doubt about how they intend to ensure the PRO Act becomes law.
As Transportation Nation Network (TNN) reported in April, Democrats plan to pass the PRO Act, along with their other wish list of items, through a budgeting tool known as “reconciliation,” which only requires 51 votes for approval in the Senate and a simple majority the House.
On Saturday, President Biden said he is “confident” he and his party can accomplish their legislative mission through reconciliation.
“I will ask [Senate Majority] Leader [Chuck] Schumer (D-NY) to schedule both the [bipartisan] infrastructure plan and the reconciliation bill for action in the Senate,” Mr. Biden commented. “I expect both to go to the House, where I will work with Speaker Pelosi on the path forward after Senate action. Ultimately, I am confident that Congress will get both to my desk, so I can sign each bill promptly.”
At her weekly press conference last Thursday, Speaker Pelosi also made it clear she would not be taking up the bipartisan bill unless a reconciliation budget bill — packed with Democratic goodies like the PRO Act — was first passed by the Senate.
“There ain’t gonna be no bipartisan bill unless we have a reconciliation bill passed by the United States Senate,” she emphatically told reporters.
This course of action is likely Democrats’ only chance for success since they hold only a slim majority in the Senate — with Vice President Kamala Harris likely casting a deciding vote.
As it stands, only three Democratic senators — Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, along with Mark Warner of Virginia — have not yet expressed support for the PRO Act.
Sens. Sinema and Kelly have come under withering attacks from left-wing grassroots organizations and major unions have warned they will pull financial support from each senator if they do not fall in line.
The pressure on these lawmakers is expected to be ratcheted up even further in the days and weeks ahead.
Why Trucking Groups Are Concerned
Specifically, the PRO Act amends the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by imposing an “ABC test” to determine whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor.
The so-called “B prong” of the test classifies a worker as an “employee” of the company unless that worker performs a service “outside the usual course of the business of the employer.”
Trucking stakeholders fear the PRO Act’s ABC test would likely eventually be expanded to include non-union businesses and be used as a tool to force unionization.
This scenario would ultimately pave the way to reclassification of all owner-operators who might operate under another motor carrier’s authority, thus ending trucking’s long-established leased owner-operator model.
A lease operator would be left with either choosing to obtain his/her own authority and take on skyrocketing insurance costs or become a company driver and possibly even join a union.
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Click HERE for more of TNN’s coverage on the PRO Act.
Many trucking stakeholders also worry this outcome would likely lead to thousands of good drivers exiting the industry altogether.
Few issues in the last century has galvanized such widespread solidarity among trucking groups as the threat of the PRO Act becoming law.
The American Trucking Associations, Truckload Carriers Association, Owner Operator Independent Driver’s Association, Small Business in Transportation Coalition, National Association of Small Trucking Companies and Transportation Intermediaries Association… just to name a few… have each spoken out in opposition to the PRO Act.
TransportationNation.com will soon have more on the battle over the PRO Act, so make sure you are following us on social media or sign up for free membership and receive breaking news alerts and much more.