For me, Labor Day is about celebrating and
acknowledging those whose hard work fuels our economy and provides essential
goods and services for all of us. As we
celebrate Labor Day this weekend, I’m reminded of some of the hardest working
laborers I know, the small businesses owners, independent contractors and other
job creators throughout California. These dedicated workers serve as the economic
engine for our state.
Our country became great because of the blood,
sweat and tears of some of America’s finest workers. Today, their entrepreneurial spirit continues
through the hard work of thousands of small business owners and independent
contractors throughout our country. That
is why it is particularly troublesome that some in federal and state government
have this sector of the workforce in their cross hairs.
with much of the nation, is going through some tough economic times. These times require flexibility and
innovation. For various reasons, many in
the work force have chosen to work as independent contractors. Some want the flexibility to earn income from
multiple sources or to devote time and energy to other aspects of life. And some just enjoy the entrepreneurial
freedom that comes from the independent contractor model. This model also allows employers to pay for
work that is needed, with the mutually beneficial flexibility for both parties.
Recently, the issue of employee and independent contactor classification has
come up nationally and in California. Measures seeking to reclassify
independent contractors as employees, as well as measures imposing new
regulations on employers of independent contractors have emerged at the federal
and state level. Some of these measures are designed to enable the state to
collect some unpaid unemployment insurance and taxes from a few bad actors that
have misclassified their workers to get out of paying their fair share of
There is certainly
no question that businesses using the independent contractor model should abide
by state laws and pay all taxes owed.
But demonizing the entire independent contractor/self-employed workforce
is unreasonable, stifles economic growth and targets hard-working Californians
who are functioning as productive members of society.
A Pew Research Center
survey found that self-employed workers are "significantly more satisfied with
their jobs than other workers." In addition to flexibility and autonomy, one
important reason workers often prefer independent contracting is that it serves
as a stepping-stone to entrepreneurship and small-business formation. Policy
changes that curtail independent contracting would result in higher
unemployment and slower economic growth.
Threatening this model
will directly affect our state’s businesses and workers at a time when many are
already suffering, unemployment is high and jobs are already fleeing our
state. It is never a good time to weaken
or even dismantle a successful, productive and beneficial sector of our
economy. But during tough economic times
with high unemployment across the economy, it is a particularly bad idea.
In any system there
will be some rule breakers. Let’s work
to force those who exploit the system to follow the rules we all live by,
instead of penalizing those who legitimately use and thrive under the
independent contractor model.