ICYMI: Scott Unveils New Bill to Put Workers First
WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) penned an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, introducing the Employee Rights Act of 2022, his new bill to give our nation’s workers and small businesses greater choices and better protection.
Time for a Law That Puts Workers, Not Unions, First
The Wall Street Journal
U.S. Senator Tim Scott
As Americans grapple with soaring inflation and life after lockdowns, they want more job flexibility and protection of their rights in the workplace.
Frustration over classroom closings, reckless spending and how to return to normal highlights a growing divide between blue-state politicians and America’s workers. Some politicians are backing labor policies that benefit government regulators, union bosses and other special-interest groups. It’s time to put workers back in the driver’s seat. This week I’m introducing legislation that protects workers, supports small-business owners and encourages innovation.
Over the past two decades, the rise of the gig economy forever changed the U.S. labor market. Uncertainty and instability from the 2008 financial crisis along with an explosion of app-based platforms created an environment where people sought new types of work opportunities. Amid a crisis, workers and entrepreneurs used their resilience and ingenuity to create a key feature of our modern economy.
Yet our laws—and the politicians and bureaucrats who pass and enforce them—haven’t kept up with the evolving labor market. In January 2020, a California law went into effect to restrict independent contractors like Uber drivers and other app-based workers.
Within months, voters overwhelmingly rejected the law, with 58% voting for Proposition 22. A judge then ruled that the ballot measure was unconstitutional. That ruling now faces challenges of its own from pro-worker groups.
While the legal fight in California continues, the entire episode illustrates why we need federal legislation that brings stability, security, clarity and flexibility to America’s workforce and small business owners. My new legislation, the Employee Rights Act of 2022, would do that.
The bill is based on legislation I introduced in the House and Orrin Hatch in the Senate in 2011. The original bill was written to protect workers from overbearing union bosses and small business owners from unelected bureaucrats in Washington.
My new bill, which has support from more than 20 senators and is also being introduced in the House, updates the original version to include provisions that protect gig workers, contractors, franchisees, entrepreneurs and anyone seeking flexible work options.
But while my bill looks to the future, President Biden’s Protecting the Right to Organize Act is stuck in the past. Not only would it crush right-to-work protections in 27 states and put more power in the hands of union bosses, it also would also codify the California law that voters in one of the most liberal states in America already rejected. It doesn’t make sense—unless you understand that the codependent relationship between labor bosses and liberal elected officials requires a radical agenda that prioritizes their power at the expense of American workers. The president breathed new life into the fight over the PRO Act during his State of the Union speech this month, even after the legislation squeaked by in the House and failed in the Senate last year.
Putting power first and employees last, failing to bring our laws up to speed with the modern economy, and limiting the options for entrepreneurs are all pillars on which the PRO Act was built. That is not the foundation on which we can build an economy that works for all Americans.
I look forward to continuing this fight in Congress so that we can give the nation’s workers the protections and choices they need.
Read the full op-ed here.