Letter to the Editor: Alaska’s independent mindset is special

Fisherman William Evans mends a damaged net. (July 7, 2019) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times
Fisherman William Evans mends a damaged net. (July 7, 2019) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Alaskans are naturally independent thinkers. It should come as no surprise, then, that we have a large number of independent contractors. The flexibility it offers appeals to us and is evidenced by the more than 55,000 Alaskans who participated in the “gig economy” and earned roughly $2.5 billion in revenue (U.S. Census Bureau’s Nonemployer Statistics, 2018).

Think about it. The seasonal workers we have in Cordova — net menders, part-time pilots, summer tour guides — are overwhelmingly independent contractors. This legislation would be a dramatic blow to them, to us. Why? The PRO Act federalizes the failed “ABC Test” out of California, making it difficult to identify as an independent 1099 worker. Even California recognized the failure of the “ABC Test” and recently updated their laws to create multiple exceptions.

Further, the PRO Act repeals “right-to-work” laws, removing an employee’s choice on union membership. That is why union bosses are heavily pushing for our support. They will benefit, not the independent worker who works three jobs dreaming of a two-day weekend. This legislation eliminates your choice, something that we are seeing far too often these days.

As a full-time college student last year, I appreciated the flexibility that being a 1099 worker offered. I was able to work independently, on my own schedule. The PRO Act threatens that way of life, the life of a full-time college kid simply trying to make ends meet without taking loans. It threatens the livelihood of young Alaskans who are trying to make their own path. In a time with much uncertainty, it threatens our very community and the economy we all need.

That is why I am calling on all Cordovans to join me in urging Sens. Murkowski and Sullivan to oppose the PRO Act. Our economy, we, cannot take another hit.

William Deaton
Republican Party Cordova Precinct leader

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