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Owner-Operators Could Be Harmed With New PRO Act

New PRO Act would enact the ABC test, which could potentially pose harm to owner-operators by classing them as employees.

GRAIN VALLEY, Miss. — A new bill that would implement the ABC test for classifying workers is being fought by The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. The bill would implement the test for all workers that classify under the National Labor Relations Act.

An email was sent out of February 8, 2021 to all members of The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association to notify them of the new Act. Called the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, the bill would allow the implementation of Union-friendly changes for union elections, bargaining processes, the ABC test, and many other policies.

All workers are considered employees under the no nonsense, cut-dry ABC test, unless the company that is hiring can prove that three factors are in use. These are as follows:

A.) That the worker is free from the control and direction of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact.

B.) That the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.

C.) That the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.

According to The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association, section B is the hardest part for many leased Owner-Operators. This is because leased owner-operators perform the same work as employees do within the business they lease to. The ABC test would class them as employees, and they would essentially fail the test.

While some say that Protecting the Right to Organize Act would use the ABC test as implementation to determine if workers are actually employees primarily for union organization, the change would likely have a far greater overall effect to the industry and owner-operators.

According to the Association, “The PRO Act doesn’t directly change classification for other laws, like minimum wage, health benefits, or tax withholding, but OOIDA believes employers would choose the most restrictive test to classify their workers for all laws. In other words, if the PRO Act were to become law, the ABC test would become the single test for the employee/independent contractor determination.”

In the previous Congressional session, the Act did not pass within the Senate. It had passed within the House.

The Owner-Operator independent Drivers Association stated that, “We will be working in D.C. to let lawmakers know our concerns about the PRO Act. While the legislation may again pass the House this year, it seems unlikely that it would have the 60 votes needed to pass in the Senate. We know that there is certainly misclassification in the trucking industry, oftentimes through lease-purchase or lease-to-own purchases. But these issues must be addressed without forcing truckers to abandon the traditional owner-operator model.”


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