PRO Act would be harmful to owner-operators, OOIDA says

February 19, 2021

Mark Schremmer

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The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is actively fighting a bill that would implement the ABC test for classifying workers under the National Labor Relations Act.

On Friday, Feb. 18, OOIDA sent an email to its members updating them on the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which would implement the ABC test and other union-friendly changes for union elections, bargaining processes, and many other policies.

Under the strict ABC test, all workers are considered employees unless the hiring business demonstrates that three factors are established:

A. That the worker is free from the control and direction of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact.

B. That the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.

C. That the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.

 

“Prong B is the most problematic for leased owner-operators,” OOIDA wrote.

“Since leased owner-operators perform the same work as the business they are leased to, they would likely fail this test and be considered employees.”

OOIDA said that while the PRO Act would implement the ABC test to determine if workers are employees for the purposes of union organizing the change would likely have a greater effect.

“The PRO Act doesn’t directly change classification for other laws, like minimum wage, health benefits, or tax withholding, but OOIDA believes employers would choose the most restrictive test to classify their workers for all laws,” the Association wrote. “In other words, if the PRO Act were to become law, the ABC test would become the single test for the employee/independent contractor determination.”

Democrats reintroduced the PRO Act earlier this month. In the previous congressional session, the bill passed the House but failed in the Senate.

“While the legislation may again pass the House this year, it seems unlikely that it would have the 60 votes needed to pass in the Senate,” OOIDA wrote. “We will be working in D.C. to let lawmakers know our concerns about the PRO Act.

“We know that there is certainly misclassification in the trucking industry, oftentimes through lease-purchase or lease-to-own purchases. But these issues must be addressed without forcing truckers to abandon the traditional owner-operator model.”

Worker classification has been a hot topic as of late. Read about some of the other latest developments here. LL

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Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.