Independent workers are counting on Senator Warner to reject the PRO Act

National App-Based Work Alliance Will Advocate for Solutions That Preserve Worker Independence and Access to Benefits

Written by Daryl K.

Five years ago, I found myself looking for a part-time job in Richmond and wasn’t sure where to turn. When a friend of mine told me about driving with Lyft - how it lets you decide your own hours, be your own boss, and work on your own time - I knew I had to give it a try.

Driving with Lyft quickly stuck after experiencing firsthand the ease and flexibility of balancing it with my full-time job.

The reason I drive is because of the flexibility to set my own schedule, which is exactly what I was looking for. I have the power to decide when to turn the app on and drive, and when to shut it off and go home. Whether I need time to focus on my other job, spend time with friends, or be involved at my church, I’m able to do that with no questions asked. That flexibility is absolutely critical to me, because having a set schedule just would not fit in my life.

Unfortunately, Congress is considering legislation that could strip independent workers like me of our flexibility. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO) Act, includes a strict measure called the ABC test, which could make over 57 million independent contractors into employees instead, something workers do not want. I can’t afford to work another taxing schedule in addition to my full-time job, and if the PRO Act passes independent workers like me could lose a crucial portion of our income.

Like our community here in Richmond, the nation’s independent workforce is its own melting pot of people from all kinds of industries such as independent artists, writers, musicians, and other freelancers. Beyond having a devastating effect on app-based workers, this harmful bill could leave independent workers everywhere in a place of economic uncertainty.

I’ve found that driving with Lyft is not only a reliable source of earnings, but also a joy that allows me to help other people and connect with my community.

We are lucky to have such a diverse community here in Richmond. From the various college campuses across the city, to the vibrant music scene in the Fan, to the incredible shopping and art hubs in Carytown, to the renowned hospitals and medical centers, Richmond is a melting pot of people from different cultures and backgrounds. Even though I’ve lived here for a while, it wasn’t until I started driving that I really began to fully understand and appreciate the people around me.

Whether I’m taking someone to check in on a sick relative at the VCU Medical Center, or giving a student a lift to class at University of Richmond, I take pride in being able to play a small part in helping them get through their day. Through my years of driving, I’ve found that if you just listen, people will tell you the most amazing stories about themselves.

Thankfully, some of Virginia’s lawmakers such as Senator Mark Warner have recognized the need to protect independent work by rejecting the PRO Act. Senator Warner recently recognized how harmful provisions such as the ABC test would be for workers like me. The ABC test is basically a carbon copy of California’s detrimental Assembly Bill 5, a bill that fueled widespread job loss and panic among independent workers. If this legislation had such bad effects in one state, I can’t imagine the havoc it would wreak across the entire country.

I sincerely hope that Senator Mark Warner will stand with independent workers by protecting independent work and rejecting the PRO Act in its current form. The beauty of independent work is the independence, and taking that away from so many workers would strip us of earnings, opportunity, and the ability to tackle whatever life throws our way.

Daryl drives with Lyft in Richmond, Virginia.