Committee Democrats Champion Innovation and Worker Protections at Sharing Economy Hearing

WASHINGTON – TODAY, the Education and the Workforce Committee held a full committee hearing on “The Sharing Economy: Creating Opportunities for Innovation and Flexibility.”

At today’s hearing Committee Democrats explored when it is fair, appropriate, and legal for sharing economy companies to classify workers as independent contractors. Committee Democrats also considered whether the independent contractor paradigm prevailing in the sharing economy and other industries reflects what the future of work will look like in the United States.

“When it comes the sharing economy, Congress must strike the right balance – and our guiding principle should be what is just and reasonable,” said Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03). “We can support responsible growth while still maintaining what should be a bipartisan commitment to workers’ rights to a fair and stable wage, safe workplaces, and their ability to organize and collectively bargain. Any suggestion that we can only do one or the other represents a false choice.”

Americans’ need for important protections, such as unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation, does not evaporate just because they are dispatched using new technologies. Congress must work together to ensure that workers get a fair deal and a meaningful opportunity to share in the gains being created by their work in the sharing economy.

“We should all share the goal of growing the American economy in ways that create a better future for everyone involved in this sector – platform owners, consumers, and workers,” said Ms. Sharon Block, Executive Director of the Labor & Worklife Program at Harvard Law School. “The innovation that Americans should be most proud of is our nation’s long history of adapting to change – including technological change – in ways that have produced the most enduring and prosperous middle class in history.”

Committee Democrats share Republicans’ interest in the sharing economy – but other policy issues impacting a far greater number of American workers demand our attention. For example, raising the minimum wage, ensuring workers have safe workplaces, and access to schedules that work. In July, Ranking Member Scott and fifteen other Committee Democrats sent a letter to Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (NC-05) requesting a hearing on H.R.15, the Raise the Wage Act of 2017, which would gradually raise the minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour by 2020. Committee Democrats will continue to press for attention to this and other issues to ensure workers are able to provide a better future for themselves and their families.

FULL OPENING STATEMENT: Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03)

FULL TESTIMONY: Sharon I. Block, Executive Director, Labor & Worklife Program, Harvard Law School

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