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Freelancers, gig workers express fear that a Biden presidency will put them out of work

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Millions of freelance workers in the U.S. are worried that a Biden presidency might put them out of business because of his support for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and opposition to Proposition 22, which is on the ballot this election.

The PRO Act would implement similar measures to California’s AB-5 law, which forced millions of independent contractors out of work and prompted lawsuits by the rideshare companies Lyft and Uber.

According to a recent Upwork survey, Freelance Forward 2020, there are 59 million workers in the U.S. who work as contract employees, filing income taxes as 1099 employees instead of W-2 employees.

AB-5, which went into effect Jan. 1, requires every worker in California to be a W-2 employee unless the employer can meet the standards of a rigorous “ABC test” stipulated by the law.

The B part of the test states that to be considered an independent contractor, “a worker must perform work that is outside of the usual course of business for the hiring company – making it harder or impossible for many freelancers to work for clients in their own industry. Similar measures have been considered in other states, including New York and New Jersey, so far unsuccessfully,” according to a CNBC news report.

This month, a California Appeals Court heard legal arguments from Uber and Lyft, who challenged the law requiring them to reclassify their drivers as employees, or leave California altogether.

On Nov. 3, California’s registered voters will vote on Proposition 22, a ballot measure that would overturn AB-5. Proposition 22 classifies rideshare drivers as independent contractors (1099), not employees or agents of a company (W-2).

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden publicly opposed Prop 22, tweeting, “Last year California passed #AB5, affording gig workers protections and benefits like a minimum wage and overtime pay. Now, gig economy giants are trying to gut the law and exempt their workers. It’s unacceptable. I urge Californians to vote no on the initiative this November.”

According to his campaign plan, the Biden Plan for Strengthening Worker Organizing, Collective Bargaining and Unions, Biden states that if elected, he would ″aggressively pursue employers who violate labor laws, participate in wage theft, or cheat on their taxes by intentionally misclassifying employees as independent contractors.”

″As president, Biden will put a stop to employers intentionally misclassifying their employees as independent contractors,” the campaign website states. “He will enact legislation that makes worker misclassification a substantive violation of law under all federal labor, employment, and tax laws with additional penalties beyond those imposed for other violations. And, he will build on efforts by the Obama-Biden Administration to drive an aggressive, all-hands-on-deck enforcement effort that will dramatically reduce worker misclassification.”

A coalition of Instacart, DoorDash, Lyft, Uber and Postmates has spent more than $184 million to promote the passage of Proposition 22. The California Chamber of Commerce, California Police Chiefs Association, and the California NAACP have all expressed support for Prop 22.

Union groups representing roughly 55,000 workers, Gig Workers Rising, We Drive Progress, Mobile Workers United, Rideshare Drivers United, and the Service Employees International Union oppose Prop 22.

“Big Labor and the forced unionism-supporting politicians they back detest Uber, Lyft and other such companies simply because their drivers are independent contractors and are not vulnerable under federal law to union monopoly bargaining, and being forced to pay union dues as a job condition,” Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Committee, told The Center Square.

“AB5, California’s attempt to give union bosses these powers over freelancers, has been disastrous and has led to massive layoffs, so much so that Golden State politicians ultimately concluded they had no choice but to exempt journalists and many other kinds of workers from its radical provisions,” Mix adds. “Despite the devastating consequences AB5 has had in California, Biden and those that support the so-called PRO-Act seek to apply AB5 and its job-destroying impact nationwide.”

Biden supports the PRO Act, which would weaken right-to-work laws in states that allow employees to opt out of joining a union and paying union dues. The law also authorizes the federal National Labor Relations Board to fine companies that retaliate against workers who organize collective bargaining rights activities.

Biden’s campaign website states that, once elected, he “will direct the U.S. Department of Labor to engage in meaningful, collaborative enforcement partnerships, including with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, the Justice Department, and state tax, unemployment insurance, and labor agencies.

“And, while Trump has weakened enforcement by sabotaging the enforcement agencies and slashing their investigator corps, Biden will fund a dramatic increase in the number of investigators in labor and employment enforcement agencies to facilitate a large anti-misclassification effort.”

Rafael Espinal, executive director of the Freelancers Union, told CNBC, “Those who are aware of the negative impacts of AB-5 in California are extremely concerned about what the next presidency can mean for their industry.”

Mix adds that “The Biden-backed ‘PRO-Act’ is a laundry list of long sought-after and new union boss powers over rank-and-file workers, over businesses and over the entire American economy, whose signature provision is wiping out by federal fiat all 27 state Right to Work laws so millions more workers could be forced to fund a union or be fired.

“Other provisions of the so-called PRO-Act include authorizing the federal Labor Board to overturn secret ballot votes in order to impose unionization on workers on the basis of the coercive card check process, empowering federal bureaucrats to impose contracts on private businesses and their workers, and reclassifying millions of independent contractors so they could be unionized against their will,” he says.



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The Big Gig: FinTech Australia’s new board member

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Former senior advisor to the Turnbull and Morrison governments Harry Godber has been added to the board of FinTech Australia as an independent director.

Mr Godber acted as an advisor to Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and the Digital Economy Jane Hume, where he led initiatives in fintech and financial regulation. He also worked on Australia’s Consumer Data Right, superannuation reform and the introduction of new payment regulation.

Mr Godber was an Industry, Innovation and Science Adviser to Ministers Arthur Sinodinos and Michaelia Cash, and, in a separate role led product and strategy at the CSIRO’s Data61.

“With the right policy and regulatory settings in place, fintech is poised to lead Australian consumers and business through our economic recovery,” Mr Godber said.

Mr Godber currently works as head of strategy for Flare, a fintech focused on HR, banking and superannuation.

Harry Godber, a former senior advisor to the Turnbull and Morrison governments has been added to the board of FinTech Australia. Image: Twitter.

Deloitte has promoted Rob Hillard to be its Asia Pacific consulting leader, where he will oversee around $2 billion worth of consulting work in the region.

Mr Hillard has worked as the consulting giant’s chief transformation officer for the past year and was previously Deloitte’s chief strategy and innovation officer. After being made a managing partner in 2015, Mr Hillard oversaw the doubling of Deloitte professionals to over 3,000 by 2018.

Mr Hillard is a member of the Deloitte global board and the Chairman of the Australian Information Industry Association.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Commissioner Sarah Court is leaving the watchdog after more than a decade to join the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC). Ms Court joins ASIC after wide involvement in the ACCC’s work, including chairing the its enforcement, compliance, Consumer Data Right and legal committees and as a member of the merger review and competition exemptions committees.

“This is a well-deserved reflection of the experience, expertise, and wisdom Sarah brings to the table,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said “ASIC’s gain is very much our loss.”

The new Australian Public Service Academy will be led by Grant Lovelock, who has been responsible for skills funding and apprenticeship policy at the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training. Most recently Mr Lovelock has worked at the Department’s National Careers Institute.

The University of Sydney’s United States Studies Centre (USSC) has added three more non-resident experts: former chief of staff to President Trump Mick Mulvaney, former Director General of ASIO Duncan Lewis and Sir Roland Wilson Scholar at the Australian National University’s National Security College Jennifer Jackett.

Mr Mulvaney and Mr Lewis join as non-resident senior fellows while Ms Jackett joins the University’s Foreign Policy and Defence Program as a non-resident fellow.

DXC Technologies lost associate partner Pewter Klement, who joined Avande this month. Mr Klement leaves DXC after three and a half years for the Microsoft focused Avande.

Alan Cameron has stepped down from the board of PEXA, the online property exchange network he helped establish in 2010, to fulfil a COAG initiative to deliver a single, national e-conveyancing solution to the Australian property industry.

Mr Cameron will be replaced by finance industry veteran Mark Joiner as independent non-executive Chairman.

Construction software firm Asite has announced the appointment of Kyle Hamer as chief marketing officer. Mr Hamer will lead the global marketing and communications team from the company’s Houston office.

AUmake, the ASX-listed company that connects Asian influencers with Australian brands has a new chief financial officer, with Tony Guarna joining this month. Mr Guarna has held finance chief roles at several ASX companies and joins AUmake as its user base hits more than 27,000 after launching in October last year.

Global semiconductor technology and equipment firm Revasum appointed Rebecca Shooter-Dodd as chief financial and operating officer, formalising her operating responsibilities in addition to her current role as Revasum’s chief financial officer and company secretary.

Former Gartner director Rhys Binney has been announced as Axe Group’s senior vice-president of growth strategy. Mr Binney joins the insurance software provider after three years as a director at Gartner for their CIO and CEO advisory groups.

UK fintech Marqeta has named Duncan Currie as country manager for Australia and New Zealand as part of its plans to establish an Asia Pacific Headquarters in Melbourne. Mr Currie is an industry veteran with almost two decades of payments experience, serving as a consultant and advisor to local fintechs, alongside stints at ANZ, Visa and Tuxedo Money.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email or Signal.

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Free the Gig Economy! | City Journal

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Last week, the Biden administration made another effort to drag the U.S. labor market back into the past. The Department of Labor withdrew the independent-contractor rule, a Trump-era regulation that made it easier for firms to classify workers as contractors instead of employees. It’s not yet clear what will replace it, though President Biden says he supports the ABC test that California tried to implement, which would classify most contractors as employees—including not just drivers for Uber and Lyft but even freelance writers.

The Labor Department and the media are framing the administration’s move as a way to ensure that workers in the gig economy are protected and paid overtime and minimum wage. Yet many workers prefer the flexibility of contract work, which lets them set their own hours and work for other companies. According to a Fed survey, most gig workers report high levels of satisfaction with the arrangement. When California tried to classify gig workers as employees, the state faced pushback not just from companies but from gig workers themselves.

They have good reasons to prefer it. The nature of work is changing, as it has throughout history. It once was considered dehumanizing that most workers should be beholden to a single employer. Today, we’re forcing this arrangement on people who don’t want it.

The rollback of the Trump rule joins a list of policies—efforts to increase unionization, low-skill manufacturing, and “shovel-ready” infrastructure jobs—by which the Biden administration is attempting to shoehorn the modern labor market into a 1950s mold. The problem with these policies is that the labor market has changed. When work was more uniform, workers were easier to replace, so forming strong ties to one’s employer made sense for job security. Unionization also made sense because it allowed the large numbers of lower-skilled workers to pool together for similar pay and benefits.

Over time, however, manufacturing, construction, and most other jobs have become more technical, requiring skilled workforces. The more skilled the workers, the less incentive they have to attach themselves to individual jobs or to pool risk with fellow workers. The more skills you have, the less unionization makes sense because you’re effectively subsidizing lower-skilled workers. And workers today also place a higher premium on flexibility. This may explain why the unionization drive at Amazon has not succeeded.

As we emerge from the pandemic, we should expect the value placed on flexibility in work arrangements to increase. The expanded availability of remote work, combined with the continuing unpredictability of school re-openings and child-care arrangements, make benefits like the ability to set your own hours and the freedom to work for multiple employers more important than ever.

Some Biden policies, like making it easier to buy health insurance without an employer, move in the right direction. The administration would do well to pursue more measures like these that embrace the new economy, rather than trying to force workers into structures better suited for the economy of more than a half-century ago.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images



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Pixelbet becomes latest GiG Comply sign-up

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Gaming Innovation Group has lauded a “growing demand” for its automated affiliate marketing compliance screening tool after securing an agreement with Pixelbet.

The company’s solution enables operators to set-up their own criteria and checklist parameters to scan and check affiliate websites for content including igaming code red words, links and regulatory requirements across multiple jurisdictions

It works by using its rules engine to analyse real snapshots from affiliates’ campaigns, and provides operators with the promotional content that is being used in their brands’ promotions.

“The growing demand for our compliance solution is a clear sign that we have created a solution that has become the go-to compliance tool within the igaming industry,” noted Jonas Warrer, CMO at GiG.

“It’s great to see that new and ambitious companies such as Pixelbet value the importance of marketing compliance, we look forward to supporting them in their marketing compliance efforts with GiG Comply.”  

GiG Comply will permit the Malta-based gaming firm to set-up bespoke checklist parameters, which can be tailored to cover market-specific legislation and advertising standards. 

This will allow the group to remain proactive and in control of their affiliate marketing by ensuring that affiliates are aligned with their brand, that responsible gaming measures are visible on relevant pages, and terms and conditions are correct and up to date. 

Eirik Kristiansen, CEO of Pixelbet, added: “We are excited to partner up with GiG through its market-leading GiG Comply software. This strong product fits perfectly with our current and future business objectives, enabling us to further improve how we manage our affiliate compliance operations. 

“This partnership will help Pixelbet ensure that our affiliates can continue offering high quality experiences that are fully compliant with regional regulations and requirements.”



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