The PRO Act, as passed by the House and currently in the Senate, is the most sweeping, comprehensive labor bill in decades. It amends the National Labor Relations Act to strengthen collective bargaining rights, and it would give many professional freelancers the same rights as employees to collectively bargain with the companies that employ them. This is a profound development for freelance writers. The PRO Act, however, will not make any 1099 freelancer a W2 employee, nor vice versa.
JOIN THE AUTHORS GUILD IN SUPPORTING THE PRO ACT!
Please let your Senators know that you support the PRO Act and ask them to ensure that it covers all freelance writers and authors without affecting their copyright ownership.
WEBINAR: The PRO Act - How Would It Impact Freelance Writers?
Join the Authors Guild for a discussion of the PRO Act, passed by the House of Representatives and pending in the Senate, which, if enacted, would give freelance writers and authors collective bargaining rights, and what that means. We will walk you through the pertinent provisions of the PRO Act—in particular its use of the ABC test—and the National Labor Relations Act, which it amends, to illustrate how the legislation would impact you as a freelance writer. We will also address misinformation fanned online about how the PRO Act would "nationalize" California's AB5 law and make freelance writers employees—which in reality is not the case.
The Pro Act and the ABC Test
There has been a good deal of online hype that the PRO Act uses the ABC test and will make 1099 freelancers into W2 employees. To be clear, it does not. It amends the federal labor law that provides collective bargaining rights and governs the National Labor Relations Board, and nothing else. Coverage under the NLRA does not directly affect employment status for any other law.
How Does the PRO Act Affect Freelance Writers?
What does this mean for writers? Will writers have to join unions?
The first thing the PRO Act will do is allow writers to speak to each other about financial terms and to speak out collectively for or against certain terms or treatment. Writers’ groups could start to do things like setting suggested minimums for different types of writing services or call for boycotts of certain publishers without fear of getting sued for antitrust violations. It will not affect your status as a 1099 freelancer.
The Guild’s Legislative Proposals for Collective Bargaining
Authors, freelance journalists, and other creators need the ability to collectively demand better treatment and terms for their work from those they work for. They work on a freelance basis for publishers under standard contracts and often for low pay, with almost no ability to negotiate better terms.
The PRO Act 2021
Legislative text of the PRO Act.
What is the ABC Test?
The “ABC test” is a legal test used by many states in employment-related laws, such as for workers’ compensation or unemployment compensation, to determine whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. It is a three-factor test, hence the name “ABC.” The ABC test gained notoriety last year when California incorporated it into a worker classification law referred to as “AB5” to make it easier to enforce the law against gig employers, like Uber and Lyft, who refused to treat their core full-time workers as employees and pay state employee taxes for them or provide them any benefits.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS ACT
Relevant Sections of the NLRA, 2, 7, and 8
PRO ACT IN THE NEWS
Why Are Freelancers Organizing Against the PRO Act?
The New Republic
Freelancers Shouldn't Have 'Horror' Stories
The New York Times