Monday, May 20

Opinion | Protection of the rights of independent contractors

To the editor:

On “The ‘Gig’ Label Is Used to Exploit Workers,” by Terri Gerstein (Opinion guest essay, Jan. 29):

We are the freelance writers and editors mentioned by Ms. Gerstein who are suing the Department of Labor over the independent contractor rule which, as she said, “will make it harder for employers to treat workers as independent contractors rather than employees” . So let’s explain.

The Department of Labor acknowledges, in its 339-page rule released Jan. 10, that the majority of 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.”

Today, there are more than 70 million self-employed workers, representing a significant portion of the U.S. workforce, and study after study shows that 70 to 85 percent of us want to remain self-employed. The independent contractor rule is just the latest in the Biden administration’s ongoing assaults on our rights to do business for ourselves.

Like the vast majority of independent business owners in America, we choose self-employment. This rule, which goes into effect March 11, will limit our right to enter into commercial contracts with our customers on our terms. We hope the district court will invalidate the rule and protect our careers.

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

To the editor:

Terri Gerstein confuses the gig economy model with the independent contractor model and blames it for the evils and exploitation of independent contracting AND gig work.

Ms. Gerstein uses the case of dishwashers exploited by a temporary agency. For such cases, federal and local statutes already in place may address this minority of misclassification cases.

But to justify stripping tens of millions of independent workers of the autonomy, rights, and earning potential of tens of millions of independent workers, as the latest Department of Labor rule seeks to do, Gerstein ignores the professional class of “solopreneurs”: journalists, lawyers, emergency room doctors, nurses and musicians, as well as small business owners who rely on this type of skilled professionalism to maintain and promote their business.

Ms. Gerstein barely mentions this class, which makes up the majority of independent professionals. Instead, she advocates changes in laws and regulations that would ultimately do nothing to help low-wage workers, while doing great harm to true independent contractors.

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

To the editor:

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

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

Now only Nikki Haley stands between Trump and the Republican nomination. Will you again fall into the potential trap of believing that Trump is unelectable and that he is the easiest candidate to defeat?

President Biden has achieved incredible things, at home and abroad. His policies are by far the best of any candidate and I enthusiastically support him.

But given 2016, 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 Trump?

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

Stephen Gladstone
Shaker Heights, Ohio

To the editor:

On “Extinction Panic Is Back, Right on Schedule,” by Tyler Austin Harper (Opinion guest essay, Jan. 28):

Harper wants us to feel reassured that real, life-changing threats to human well-being are nothing more than predictable “extinction panic” attacks that temporarily upend global complacency. You know, take a few deep breaths and everything will be fine.

I cannot predict how and when global warming will actually surpass our ability to mitigate its consequences, or whether AI-based robots will ever replace human dominance. But I’m concerned about two specific disasters that could rock our world soon and deserve more than a “what do I worry about?” academic dismissal as just another round of extinction panic.

First, less than a year ago, the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned that we could soon be facing a pandemic far deadlier than Covid-19. It is now necessary to intensify surveillance, prevention and therapeutic research for new pathogens.

Second, Harper appears to dismiss the threat of nuclear conflict as merely a reduction of Cold War brinkmanship. Vladimir Putin’s finger is on the trigger of the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, and North Korea’s unstable Kim Jong-un is increasingly obsessed with growing his own stockpile.

Added to this is the fact that the other seven nuclear-armed nations are always on high 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 much more than just an epidemic of “extinction panic.” It’s the real deal.

Irwin Redlener
New York
The writer, a pediatrician, is the founding director of Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness.

To the editor:

Regarding “Florida cuts sociology as major” (news article, Jan. 28):

When the Florida State University System dropped “Principles of Sociology” from the list of approved core offerings for undergraduates, the point wasn’t actually to protect innocent college students from “woke ideology,” as the state commissioner claimed for education, Manny Diaz Jr..

After all, Florida students had several options for fulfilling social science requirements. Nobody forced them to study sociology; they could have easily gotten something else. They chose him, in considerable numbers.

Sociology often focuses attention on issues of inequality, race and gender – topics that the Florida government would seemingly prefer not mentioned. Many college students, however, welcome the opportunity to discuss and learn about issues of vital public and often personal importance.

The effect of eliminating this core credit will almost certainly reduce sociology enrollments, and therefore majors, perhaps preparing departments for elimination. The courses may 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.”

To the editor:

Regarding “After 500 Years, Mexican Bullfighting Faces Deadly Challenge” (front page, Feb. 4):

What kind of collective disconnection is required for 42,000 people to cheer and celebrate while bulls groan in agony as swords are driven through their thorns and they die in a pool of blood?

Philip Tripp
Largo, Fla.