The Generalist

The War Against Independent Contractors

Right now in New Jersey (Bills A5936/S4204) and California a battle is raging over the right to be an independent contractor. That is… to get paid without withholding and all the rules that go along with traditional employment – i.e., to be an individual making your own decisions and negotiating and contracting freely with other businesses and individuals. The Independents are fighting gallantly, but they are divided group – and that means they are probably going to fail.

Why are they divided? Because many of them fail to understand the politics of power and what the laws are really meant to achieve.

Unions are a big part of this. You see, Union leaders like power. And the people who are in the unions like having a thug on their side. People contracting freely are a BIG threat to unions. A priori they will always outcompete them. You see, nobody really wants to work with a thug.

So when Uber (or any one else) says, “we’ll contract with you – you can set your own hours and drive your own car” – lots of people see an opportunity and they sign up. This drives the cost of transportation down – for everybody. Now the union drivers aren’t getting jobs anymore – they cost too much. The unions want protection. So they get the lawmakers to draft up a law that says “we want to protect independent contractors.” If they’re crafty they might even call the bill “Protection for Independent Contractors.” – i.e., precisely the opposite of what it really is.

So, what are the independent contractors doing wrong in their fight against this bill? Too many of them agree with the ostensible reason for the bill – protection for independent contractors. “We understand that Uber drivers need protection,” they say. “We just want to change the wording of the bill so it doesn’t include US.”

The hypocrisy of this is apparently lost on them.

Uber drivers don’t need protection from Uber! They are not slaves. No one is forcing them to go out in their own cars using the Uber app and picking up strangers. They are CHOOSING to do this. This law is not meant to protect Uber drivers – it’s meant to protect UNION drivers from Uber competition – PERIOD.

The same is true for ANY independent contractor whose work threatens a union job. That means YOU independent writers, truckers, graphic designers, waiters, musicians, photographers… ALL OF YOU. This is a war ON YOU.

So stop AGREEING with any part of this bill at all. You are playing with the cards they’ve dealt you. You are falling into their trap. And because of that, you WILL fail to stop this bill. Don’t do it.

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