HR842, the Pro Act

I’ve just sent the following letter to my Congressional representatives, expressing concern over a portion of this bill, which has already passed the House, and is currently in the Senate (if you’re interested in reading the bill for yourself, see this link):

I’m writing because I’m concerned about H.R. 842, titled “An act to amend the National Labor Relations Act, the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947, and the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, and for other purposes.”

I’m especially concerned about one of the definitions. It is in Title I, Section 101 Definitions, subsection (b) Employee, specification (B), which says “[an individual… shall be considered an employee… and not an independent contractor, unless] the service is performed outside the usual course of the business of the employer…”

This concerns me both as a freelance writer and as the owner of a small publishing company. As a writer, I write stories and articles for which I am paid as a freelancer and which appear in magazines and books. The companies which publish my work are in the business of publishing content like that which I write, which certainly sounds like “the usual course of the business.”

As a publisher, I hire freelance cover designers and freelance editors to help craft the books that I publish. Putting the books into publishable form is the usual course of my business (and of course, the writers themselves are not my employees). None of those writers, editors, or cover artists are tied only to my company: they can and do use their talents for many companies, which is as they and I want it.

This clause may not apply to me, but it’s not a stretch to read it as applying emphatically and specifically to my various endeavors. Can you please see about rewriting it or otherwise emphatically noting that those of us in the freelance writing, editing, and publishing fields will be explicitly exempted from any such burdens? Thank you.

One thought on “HR842, the Pro Act

  1. I just head back from Senator Schumer regarding my letter. He wrote:

    “Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns about the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act of 2021.

    “The PRO Act would strengthen federal laws that protect workers’ rights to negotiate higher wages and better benefits, and defend the right to organize unions. It would authorize penalties for employers that violate workers’ rights, prevent employers from interfering in union elections, and facilitate initial collective bargaining agreements. This bill passed the United States House of Representatives on March 9, 2021, and has been received in the Senate.

    “Throughout my career, I have been an advocate for collective bargaining and fair labor practices for all workers. I will keep your concerns in mind as the Senate considers labor-related legislation.

    “Again, thank you for contacting me. Please keep in touch with your thoughts and opinions.”

    Obviously, the only thing this staffer saw was which bill I was referencing, and sent me the stock answer. So I wrote back, reiterating what I said originally.


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