Sen. Sherrod Brown Advocates for Worker Protection Landmark Legislation

October 12, 2020 by Sean Trambley

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, hosted a news conference call to discuss landmark legislation he introduced this fall to protect workers as corporations increasingly classify them as independent contractors and use sub-contractors, temporary (temp) agencies, and corporate franchises to avoid labor laws. 

Brown’s legislation, the Worker Flexibility and Small Business Protection Act, would help workers at app-based businesses like Uber and Instacart, as well as Amazon delivery workers, home health aides, workers classified as “temps” at plants like GM, and more. 

This legislation comes at a particularly critical time for labor and workers’ rights, Brown stated in a previous release

“Hard work doesn’t pay off like it should—wages and benefits have declined or stagnated for decades while corporate profits soar because employers increasingly use independent contractor status, temp staffing agencies, franchises, and subcontracting to increase profits and shed responsibility to their workers. These anti-worker policies disproportionately affect Black and brown workers—especially women—and are part of the legacy of systemic discrimination that has exacerbated the racial wealth gap in this country. This legislation will end that race-to-the-bottom business model, protect workers’ rights, and hold employers accountable,” said Brown.

Brown was joined on the call by Sarah Ingles, local labor attorney based in Columbus and Board President of the Central Ohio Workers Center.

“When a worker suffers from wage theft, it ravages their life. Suddenly, paying bills on time, affording medical care and basic necessities, and sustaining a basic and modest lifestyle seems impossible. Moreover, it strips workers of the dignity of their work, and it’s plain unfair and morally wrong. Misclassification of workers is just one form of wage theft, but it is a form that is pervasive not only in Ohio, but across the country. If we want an economy that works for all people, we must create and implement policies that include all people and that protect them from exploitation and unfair employment practices,” said Ingles. 

For decades, according to Brown and a report by the Economic Policy Institute, corporations have misused these legal arrangements to avoid having a legally recognized employment relationship with their workers to skirt labor laws that protect workers’ rights. 

Brown’s bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., in the House.

Brown’s bill would also help protect small businesses, which would no longer be forced to compete with huge corporations that violate workers’ rights to undercut them for business.

In a release, Brown wrote, “As the Trump Administration continues to release rules eroding protections for workers, it’s clear our labor laws must be updated to better protect them.” 

Just last week, the administration released a rule to make it more difficult for gig workers and contract workers to become employees. 

Specifically, this bill:

  • Strengthens the definition of “employee”;
  • Creates the right to flexibility at work. The bill gives workers who are currently treated by their employers as independent contractors the right to maintain their scheduling flexibility and gives all employees greater scheduling flexibility;
  • Ensures corporations are held accountable when they misclassify workers as independent contractors and deny them rights;
  • Protects “temp” workers;
  • Protects small businesses by making big businesses jointly responsible for worker protections. The bill also puts CEOs and top shareholders on the hook for workers’ right violations and requires large employers to create plans to address workers’ rights violations throughout their supply chains;
  • Expands public transparency. The bill will require companies to post notices of their compliance with labor laws so that consumers can choose to support good businesses over ones that violate workers’ rights; and
  • Establishes broad and increasing worker protections that will end the continuing erosion of workers’ rights.

A summary of the bill can be found here. Full bill text can be found here.

Employment

Push for Minimum Wage Hike Persists
Congress
Push for Minimum Wage Hike Persists
March 3, 2021
by Reece Nations

WASHINGTON — Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough quashed Democrats’ plans to add a $15 per hour federal minimum wage increase to President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, but some members are not giving up. Democrats are planning to pass the bill by using the reconciliation process... Read More

Apprenticeships Benefit Individuals and Employers
Employment
Apprenticeships Benefit Individuals and Employers
March 2, 2021
by Victoria Turner

WASHINGTON - The Department of Labor’s apprenticeship programs benefit individuals seeking to master skills while gainfully employed, and provides employers with the talent needed to fill the current workforce shortage, according to two Congressmen yesterday. Apprenticeships differ from paid internships in that they are not temporary,... Read More

US Jobless Claims Fall to 730,000 But Layoffs Remain High
Economy
US Jobless Claims Fall to 730,000 But Layoffs Remain High

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell sharply last week but remained high by historical standards.  Applications for benefits declined 111,000 from the previous week to a seasonally adjusted 730,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. It is the lowest figure since late... Read More

Biden Picks Ahuja to Head OPM
Employment
Biden Picks Ahuja to Head OPM
February 23, 2021
by TWN Staff

WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced he's picked Kiran Ahuja to be his director of the Office of Personnel Management. If confirmed, Ahuja would be the first South Asian and first Asian American woman to lead the agency. Ahuja served for a little more... Read More

Congress Wants to Restore Its Workforce to Well-Being After Tumultuous Year
Mental Health
Congress Wants to Restore Its Workforce to Well-Being After Tumultuous Year
February 19, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- A congressional subcommittee tried to assess the well-being and mental health of its own workforce Thursday after a year that one of its members described as “like drinking from a firehose while in freefall.” Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-N.Y., was talking about how the COVID-19... Read More

Restaurants Urge Congress to Forgo Minimum Wage Hike
Employment
Restaurants Urge Congress to Forgo Minimum Wage Hike
February 16, 2021
by TWN Staff

The National Restaurant Association is urging Congress not to increase the federal minimum wage as part of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package. The association said in a letter sent to congressional leaders Tuesday that fast-tracking a minimum wage hike to $15 an hour... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top