No, Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s Worker Policies Are Not Compassionate

Catherine Cortez Masto, incumbent Democrat Senator from Nevada, is in a close race with Adam Laxalt (R) for the US Senate. Friday, Masto will be campaigning alongside Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the Silver State. Ahead of Sander’s visit, Masto visited a barber school and tweeted her support of the industry. But, she didn’t tell the whole truth about that. Masto has not supported independent contractors, which I estimate to make up 300,000 members of Nevada’s workforce.

Masto’s alliances and voting record is not in favor of the barber students trying to embark on independent contracting careers.

Recently, Masto was on the campaign trail with labor boss Lorena Gonzalez, posing for photos with NV’s AFL-CIO. Gonzalez, a former California legislator, is responsible for the disastrous law, AB 5. And, there is a more nuanced situation at play with the rise of Socialists in their ranks. Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), in conjunction with the AFL-CIO, were the largest proponents of the PRO Act.

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Read more: California’s AB 5 Is a Sleeping Socialist Threat in Neighboring Nevada

Masto’s was a rubber stamp for the PRO Act in the Senate. I called Masto’s office multiple times to have a conversation about the impacts on Nevada’s industries and workforce. Nobody in her office bothered to return contact or have that conversation. The PRO Act is a complicated set of rules for union organizing,

I will spare you the policy intricacies. In short, it aims to make independent contractors a class of “unfair labor practice” workers, using criteria that have been found to be highly problematic through California’s use of it, resulting in over 100 industry exemptions. If the criteria doesn’t work for over 100 industries, it’s not good criteria, then. And, it shouldn’t be broadly applied nationally, with the force of federal bureaucracy fines for the interest of union membership in uncaptured segments of industry.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Marty Walsh (D), President Joe Biden’s appointee as the Department of Labor Secretary, has been pushing similar rules since the PRO Act failed in the Senate. In an interview with CNBC, Walsh describes independent contractors, who make up around 60 million Americans, as “dishwashers and delivery drivers,” which is a fully out-of-touch description of the vibrant diversity of careers that self-employment, freelancing, and contracting provides.

When confronted with the fact that reclassifying independents to employee status will severely impact worker flexibility, Walsh called it “an excuse.”

The facts do not match up, with Walsh telling Americans that their flexibility is just an “excuse” to not submit to employment status and have their schedules dictated by an employer. In the modern economy, worker flexibility is very important, especially to women who make up the fastest-growing portion of independent contractors. According to the American Action Forum, women now represent 46 percent of the independent contracting workforce, up from 33 percent in May 2017.

Surveys found that 83 percent of working women crave flexibility over stability in a working environment, and 92 percent said they are likely or very likely to prioritize flexibility over stability. More interesting is the reasons that women said they did not return to full-time work after the pandemic:

They were experiencing mental health strain: 54% of women stated that feelings such as anxiety, burnout and fatigue associated with their full-time job were too overwhelming to justify continuing to work under the same conditions.

One-third (33%) of women cited that they could not return to a full-time job due to illness or disability.

They were facing child care issues: 30% of women pointed to child care as a major obstacle to returning to work full-time. Many schools across the U.S. are still offering virtual or hybrid schooling to curve COVID-19, and as a result, many working parents struggle with increased child care responsibilities.

They took on caregiving duties for adult family members: Almost one-quarter of women polled (21%) began caring for an adult family member due to COVID-19.

There are so many human compassion issues that arise when we look at the reasons for flexible work. Mental health and physical health, or caring for others are major realities for Americans in the workforce. The statistics shown do not make additional considerations for those taking care of people with disabilities, or speak to the issue of ageism in the labor market. Getting hired as an older American is an obstacle when competing with younger candidates, who have decades of working years ahead of them, and may be seeking entry-level salaries. Many older Americans will opt for flexible work, creating their own schedules, setting their own rates, and coming back to an industry or a project to lend expertise for a short time frame.

I look at the issue of the rise of “gig work” and other worker flexibility issues as “work that works for you.” What we get when labor unions make the rules, with bought and paid for politicians, is a standard model of work-that just doesn’t work for people.

For Latinos, please note that putting people under employment status, in lieu of independent contracting, requires a federal I-9 form for verification… that is the form required that says you are eligible to work under citizenship status. This information can be shared with immigration enforcement (ICE). While we can get into a discussion about the morality and ethics of immigration policy, there is a more nuanced point to be made: Masto panders heavily upon her Hispanic heritage, but when it comes to undocumented workers, she will subject them to federal forms they cannot have approved, while flagging their immigration status, after eradicating the contracting industries. The last thing I want to see is Nevada’s children having their parents not come home from work one day because of legislation that was no good to begin with.

Courtesy of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

If the rubber-stamp Democrats retain control of the Senate, they will again bring back the PRO Act, forcing people into a mold that was never intended for them, for their prosperity, for their industries, their careers, or their families. All to benefit the political machine of the majority party, under the guise of “saving Americans from self-employment.”

For this, and many other reasons, Nevadans must remove Masto from office. Our economy cannot survive a federal blow to how hundreds of thousands of Nevadans feed their families.

And, if Republicans gain both chambers of Congress, Americans have the opportunity to override Walsh’s rules coming through the DOL and codify common-sense criteria that were slated to take effect, prior to the Biden Administration freezing them on day one of his presidency.

We cannot continue to change worker regulations with the political winds and fiscal interests of political coalitions and their lobbies. A Congress that doesn’t have vested interests in collecting union dues by forcing people into them (PRO Act repeals Right to Work legislation in every state), needs to act to protect the ways Americans work in a modern economy.

Nevadans, it’s not Bernie Sanders, Catherine Cortez Masto, and Lorena Gonzalez you want to make those decisions for your life and family. Vote for Adam Laxalt for the Senate and the Republican slate of candidates, including April Becker and Sam Peters for Congress.

Any way you look at it, Catherine Cortez Masto’s worker policies are not compassionate and are not good for Nevadans.

 

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