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Reviews | Protecting the Rights of Independent Contractors

Reviews |  Protecting the Rights of Independent Contractors

For the editor:

Regarding “The ‘Gig’ Label Is Used to Exploit Workers,” by Terri Gerstein (guest essay, January 29):

We are the independent writers and publishers mentioned by Ms. Gerstein who sue the Department of Labor on the independent contractor rule which, as she put it, “will make it more difficult for employers to treat workers as independent contractors rather than employees.” So let’s explain.

The Ministry of Labor recognizes in its 339 page rule published on January 10 that most public comments made by independent contractors expressed opposition to the rule, “criticizing the Department’s proposed economic reality test as ambiguous and biased against independent contracting.”

There is now more than 70 million independent contractors, who make up a significant portion of the U.S. workforce, and study after study shows that 70 to 85 percent of us want to remain independent. The independent contractor rule is just the latest in the Biden administration’s continuing attack on our rights to conduct our business for ourselves.

Like the vast majority of independent contractors in the United States, we choose self-employment. This rule, which is expected to take effect on March 11, will restrict our right to enter into commercial contracts with our customers on our own terms. We hope the district court invalidates the rule and protects our careers.

Jen Singer
Kim Kavin
Debbie Abrams Kaplan
Karon Warren
The writers are co-founders of Fight for Freelancers USA.

For the editor:

Terri Gerstein confuses the gig economy model with the independent contractor model and blames it for the evils and exploitation of independent contracts. And concert work.

Ms. Gerstein uses the case of dishwashers operated by a temp agency. In such cases, federal and local laws already in place could address this minority of cases of misclassification.

But to justify stripping away the autonomy, rights and earning potential of tens of millions of independent contractors, as the Labor Department’s latest rule seeks to do, Ms. Gerstein ignores the professional class of “solopreneurs”: journalists, lawyers, ER. doctors, nurse practitioners and musicians, as well as small business owners who rely on this type of skilled professionalism to maintain and grow their businesses.

Ms. Gerstein barely mentions this class, which constitutes the majority of independent professionals. Instead, she advocates for changes in laws and regulations that would ultimately do nothing to help low-wage workers but would cause serious harm to true independent contractors.

Jennifer Oliver O’Connell
Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
The writer, small business owner and independent entrepreneur, is a visiting scholar at the Independent Women’s Forum’s Center for Economic Opportunity.

For the editor:

In my sixth decade of voting, I find myself with a different perspective. Age and election experience have made me a little less idealistic, just a little more realistic, and, frankly, a lot more afraid.

The year 2016 changed things for me. I wasn’t too worried when Donald Trump first took the escalator. I didn’t think he would ever win the nomination. And as he gained Republican delegates, I figured that wasn’t a bad thing. He would be the easiest candidate to defeat.

Now, only Nikki Haley stands between Mr. Trump and the Republican nomination. Am I again falling into the potential trap of believing that Mr. Trump is unelectable – and that he is the easiest candidate to defeat?

President Biden has made incredible achievements, at home and abroad. His policies are by far the best of all the candidates, and I support him enthusiastically.

But given the year 2016 is, should I hope that Republicans will see the light and nominate Ms. Haley, who is far from perfect but, at least on the surface, far less dangerous than Mr. Trump?

I may not like the outcome of a Biden-Haley matchup, but at least the survival of our democracy, and perhaps even the world order, would not be there.

Stephen Gladstone
Shaker Heights, Ohio

For the editor:

Regarding “Extinction Panic Is Back, Right on Schedule,” by Tyler Austin Harper (guest essay, January 28):

Mr. Harper wants us to be reassured that real threats to human well-being are nothing more than predictable episodes of “extinction panic” that temporarily upend global complacency. You know, just take a deep breath and everything will be fine.

I cannot predict how or when global warming will outpace our ability to mitigate its consequences, or whether AI-based robots will ever replace human dominance. But I worry about two specific disasters that could imminently upend our world and that deserve more than a sort of “what should I worry about?” academic dismissal is just another cycle of extinction panic.

First, less than a year ago, the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, we warned that we could soon face a pandemic much more deadly than Covid-19. Increased surveillance, prevention and research into treatment of new pathogens must be intensified now.

Second, Mr. Harper appears to view the threat of nuclear conflict as mere Cold War brinkmanship. Vladimir Putin’s finger is on the trigger the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, and North Korea’s unstable Kim Jong-un is increasingly obsessed with increasing his own stockpiles.

Add to this that the other seven countries with nuclear weapons are still on alert. And we should be concerned that Russia appears to be withdrawing from one arms control agreement after another.

So no, Mr. Harper, this is more than just an outburst of “extinction panic.” This is the real deal.

Irwin Redler
new York
The writer, a pediatrician, is founding director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University.

For the editor:

Regarding “Florida removes sociology as a core course” (news article, January 28):

When the Florida State University System removed “Principles of Sociology” from its list of approved core undergraduate courses, it wasn’t actually about protecting innocent students from “woke ideology.” , as state Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. said.

After all, Florida students had several options for meeting social science requirements. No one forced them to take sociology classes; they could easily have taken something else. They chose it, in significant numbers.

Sociology often focuses its attention on issues of inequality, race, and gender—topics that Florida’s government would apparently prefer to keep quiet. Many students, however, welcome the opportunity to discuss and learn about these issues of vital public and often personal importance.

Abandoning this core credit will almost certainly have the effect of reducing sociology enrollments, and therefore specializations, perhaps paving the way for the elimination of departments. The courses might then disappear, but the issues they address will remain, no matter what Gov. Ron DeSantis wants.

Daniel F. Chambliss
Clinton, New York
The writer is professor emeritus of sociology at Hamilton College and co-author of “How College Works.”

For the editor:

Regarding “After 500 years, Mexican bullfighting faces a deadly challenge” (front page, February 4):

What kind of collective disconnect does it take for 42,000 people to cheer and celebrate while bulls scream in agony while swords are thrust into their spines and they die in a pool of blood?

Philip Tripp
Largo, Florida.

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Mattie B. Jiménez

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