The PRO Act will rob independent workers of their flexibility

Updated: May 20

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

Written By: Henok Bitew

When I heard the PRO Act passed the House of Representatives, I became immediately concerned that my work could change for the worse. A provision included in this bill called the ABC test will reclassify independent workers as full-time employees, confining millions of independent workers like me to rigid, set schedules and undermining why so many of us chose independent work in the first place.

The idea that one piece of legislation could take away independence from a quarter of our nation’s workforce is a hard pill to swallow, and something I hope our lawmakers will consider. Independent workers come from all walks of life and work in countless different industries, whether they are freelancers, writers, musicians, truck drivers, or app-based workers like me.

I’ve been delivering with DoorDash for two years now and have experienced firsthand the benefits and flexibility of independent work. App-based work has been a perfect fit in my life, because when I decided to enroll in classes to pursue a career as a laboratory technician, I knew I needed a way to make a living that also gave me ample time to focus on my future.

With DoorDash, I have the ability to handcraft my own schedule each day. If I need to go to class or study, I can simply turn off the app and dedicate time to my education. Or, if I have bills I need to pay, I can choose to pick up extra hours to make those payments. The flexibility I have gives me the opportunity to work towards my long-term goals and be financially independent, leaving me in control of my own life.

Delivering also lets me help the people in my community who need it the most. I’ve had customers who are elderly, disabled, or have other reasons why they can’t leave their homes and feeling their gratitude when I bring them a meal drives me to keep going.

Instead of passing sweeping legislation like the PRO Act, lawmakers should consider other solutions that will protect independent workers such as portable benefits. A portable benefits system would work to protect the flexibility that is crucial to us while offering us protections similar to those of traditional employees.

Independent workers everywhere deserve to keep their flexibility while also gaining access to benefits, and we need our lawmakers to help make that happen.

Thankfully one of Virginia’s own senators, Senator Mark Warner, understands this issue and has been one of the leading advocates for portable benefits. I urge both Senator Warner and Senator Tim Kaine to stand up for our independent workforce by considering solutions such as portable benefits rather than legislation like the PRO Act that will eliminate work opportunities and the freedom and flexibility to set our own schedules.

Henok Bitew works with Doordash in Virginia.