More on the PRO Act

Because, turns out, it's complicated

3/12/21 UPDATE: Freelancers Union and The Authors Guild published really great explainers on this issue. Would advise you to head there for the most comprehensive information!


Hi there,

After wading into the muddy waters of the PRO Act yesterday, I received a LOT of responses. Some kind; some, um, not so kind.

The bottom line: I shouldn’t have used my platform to cover something I knew so little about, and I apologize for doing so.

Most people directed me to Fight for Freelancers, which has been actively lobbying against the PRO Act. I’ve checked out their work and done more reading, and here’s where I’m at now:

I still think a lot of the coverage around the PRO Act is misleading, which is why I sent my newsletter in the first place. The PRO Act’s ABC test relates only to unionizing, and is not going to kill anyone’s freelance career on its own.

As Catherine Fisk, labor law professor at UC Berkeley, told MarketWatch: “The PRO Act applies only to rights to unionize and bargain collectively.” And as House Education and Labor Committee Chair Bobby Scott (D-VA) added: “Anyone making wild claims that this bill would mean the end of freelancing or restrict workers’ flexibility is either mistaken or deliberately misrepresenting the facts.”

BUT, as I learned yesterday, the issue is its passing could lead to a slippery slope, wherein the ABC test is woven into more facets of American employment law.

Here’s what Kim Kavin, one of Fight for Freelancer’s organizers, told me:

“President Biden campaigned on a plan to make the ABC Test from California the basis for all labor, employment and tax law. He wrote that California ‘paved the way’ for this federal change in law through its ABC Test law, which was the disastrous Assembly Bill 5.

The PRO Act is step one in the plan that President Biden outlined. It gets the ABC Test into labor law… Step two in the plan—to extend the ABC Test into employment law—is the Worker Flexibility and Small Business Protection Act. As you can see in the press release announcing that bill, bullet point No. 1 is creating ‘a new standard where workers are always presumed to be employees’ using the same ABC Test.

… The PRO Act does not exist in a vacuum. It’s step one in President Biden’s explicitly outlined plan to make California’s ABC Test the law of the land.”

In response, Professor Michael LeRoy, whom I quoted yesterday, said the slippery slope argument is “highly plausible,” with the caveat that “the wage and hour law (formally called the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA) is full of exemptions for specialized employers and occupations… What this suggests is the ‘slippery slope’ already has dozens of carve-outs that reflect the hardship of taking a one-size-fits-all approach to classifying all workers as employees.”

He continued:

“In general, no bill of this type has ever been proposed, let alone passed. Thus, the confusion around the bill stems, in significant part, from predicting a future that has no precedent.

The bill is very unlikely to pass in the Senate in its current form, due to the filibuster and cloture procedure. If you look to AB5 as a guide, it was passed only after scores of exemptions were literally inserted into the bill.

My point is that for writers who have deep concerns about the bill, there is likely to be an opportunity to add legislation to address these matters. I can’t say what these amendments should be, but I can say that people should at least think about how the legislation can be shaped to address their concerns. The time is ripe for suggesting amendments.”

In the end, however, it may not matter. As Vox reported yesterday:

“The PRO Act, as with many other bills the House is poised to pass in the coming weeks, will likely meet its end in the 50-50 US Senate. The bill doesn’t have support among Senate Republicans, and can’t meet the 60-vote threshold to override the filibuster. There have been some preliminary discussions about ways to incorporate pieces of the bill into the next Senate budget reconciliation package, but the entire bill cannot pass through reconciliation.”

I encourage you to do more research, and promise I’ll keep doing mine, too. If you think I missed something, feel free to reach out.

xo Susan

How 8 freelancers made *more* money in 2020

Plus, the little-known truth about the PRO Act

UPDATE: After sending out this newsletter on 3/10/21, I received a lot of emails disputing my take. You can see my follow-up email here.


Hello hello!

In recent weeks, I’ve seen a lot of online chatter about the PRO Act and how it could be the end of freelancing. (Akin to the infamous AB5 in California.)

But, in good news, I think those fears are unfounded.

In a recent edition of his Labor Law Lite newsletter, Brandon Magner — whose LinkedIn profile says he’s a deputy prosecutor in Indiana who previously focused on labor law — explained:

Unlike AB5, which used an ABC test to determine employment status and other things in general, the PRO Act *only* uses it to determine who can unionize. So while they both use ABC Tests, they use it for completely different things… It's a complete win-win for freelancers, who gain a new right, without any risk of jeopardizing or altering their employment status the way AB5 did.

Wanting to do my due diligence, I also reached out to Professor Michael LeRoy, a labor law expert who discussed the PRO Act in this interview (and whose quotes, he said, were “egregiously misrepresented” in this article by a Forbes contributor).

He echoed Magner, saying the PRO Act seems to convert “freelancing into employment—but only for purposes of forming or joining a union.” In summary, he said:

“The PRO Act will not kill freelance work for writers. It will allow freelance workers to vote for a union, if they choose (or vote against). For writers in particular, it would open an avenue to join a writer’s guild—that is my supposition.”

Professor LeRoy offered a lot more background — more than I can include in this newsletter — but if you’d like to read it, I’ve pasted his thoughts into this Google Doc.

The bottom line, though? Take a deep breath, and keep pitching!


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READ

SIGN UP

Hope spring is springing where you are,

xo Susan

PS. Here’s the link to 7 Pitches That Sold again — use susan50 to get 50% off ‘til midnight tomorrow!

Publications that pay $500 and up

And a new money guide for freelancers

Hi! You made it through the year 2020 and the year known as January. Congrats!

In an effort to get this newsletter out more regularly in 2021, I’m going to make it a little bit shorter. I’ll include one section on pitching (since that’s why you’re here, right?) and one section on everything else.

Since I’m no longer traveling anymore, I’m also revamping my personal newsletter as 12 Things. Each month, I’ll share 12ish things that I’ve been working on (stories, etc.) or obsessing over (podcasts, books) and probably a photo of my dog. See the end of this newsletter for a preview. Of the dog, that is.

And lastly, some fun news: Where to Pitch made it onto The Write Life’s 2021 list of the best websites for writers! Thanks to Farrah Daniel for including us.

On pitching

  • Loving this database of successful freelance pitches! Pay it forward and add one while you’re there.

  • Abby Lee Hood shares the pitch that got her into the NYT’s Opinion section (plus others).

  • Pitch Like a Honey Badger, an amazing writing course wherein I learned everything I know, has another session in April (with the original teacher; I had a different one). If the $240 price is out of your budget, they offer scholarships.

  • Rae Witte’s newsletter, Approved Pitches, includes, um, approved pitches, along with subject lines and rate$$$.

  • Lola Méndez is offering a freelance writing consultation service where she’ll help you improve your pitches, find editorial contacts, and whatever else you might need. If you can’t afford the $300 fee, she shares links to several hours of free advice.

  • 50+ pitching guides for NYT, NatGeo, Wired, WaPo, Bustle and more from Freelancing With Tim.


Struggling to stay on top of your freelance finances? Baffled by quarterly taxes? Then you need The Money Guide for Freelance Writers: How to Manage (and Feel Good About) Your Finances, which was written by my friend and mentor, Alexis Grant, the former executive editor of The Penny Hoarder, and her dad, who’s an accountant. These two know their stuff — and they don’t gloss over any of the technicalities. This guide covers everything from setting rates and maximizing profits to the ins and outs of LLCs, tax deductions, S-Corps, and retirement. Where to Pitch readers can get 20% off by using the code WHERETOPITCH.


On everything else

Just keep pitching!

What awaits you at 12 Things…

Want more Mochi in your life? Sign up for my new 12 Things newsletter!

xoxo

Susan

How to write when things are hard

From someone who knows


Before we get to the newsletter, a reminder that today’s your last chance to grab The Writer’s Bundle, a package of 12 courses and tools for freelance writers who want to earn more money this year. You’ll get $2,000+ worth of resources for $99. 

Some highlights include: 

  • 30 Days to Freelance Freedom (value: $149), which helps newbies build and scale a freelance biz

  • Pitching 101: How Writers Find Better Client Leads (value: $97), which includes tips on finding a niche and templates for pitching clients

  • A Q&A with journos like the brilliant Kristin Wong about breaking into top-tier pubs like the NYT and WaPo (value: $99)

If you want in, you’ll need to act before midnight PST. When you buy through my link, you support Where to Pitch — so thanks for that :)


Hi friends,

Things are hard for a lot of us right now. Between wildfires and climate change, the fight for racial justice, income inequality — and, oh, you know, the pandemic — it’s not surprising that many of us have lost focus.

It’s times like these when we all dream of a salaried job: one where, if you’re having a rough week, you’ll still get paid (as long as you send an occasional Slack meme and show your face on Zoom). It’s times like these when freelancing — where you literally won’t eat unless you sell a story or finish that goddamn blog post about credit cards or CBD oil — can feel really hard. 

I feel you. I recently lost a pregnancy halfway through the second trimester, and have since been struggling to put words on paper. When I lost my boyfriend five years ago, I had a similar experience. But I kept at it, and eventually the words did come

So while I can’t say I’ve been in your shoes, I do know how hard it is to write when writing is the last thing you want to do. And here are some ways I’ve coped: 

  • Commit to 25 minutes: I mention it so much, you’d think I was sponsored by the Pomodoro Method. I’m not — I just harp on it because it has saved me so many times when I was on deadline and thought there was no way I could make it. So set a timer for 25 minutes (or 20 or 15, whatever seems manageable to you) and force yourself to start. By the time the buzzer beeps, you’ll probably be flowing and ready to keep writing. 

  • End in the middle of a sentence: If you’re working on an assignment over multiple days, never wrap up the day’s writing in a neat little bow. Finish halfway through a sentence; that way, when you return to your doc, you’ll automatically have a prompt that helps you get going. I wish I could remember who you could thank for this magical tip — Taffy Brodesser-Akner? Ann Patchett? — but am really not sure.

  • Go for a walk: Ok, fine, you probably already know this works — but you probably also don’t do it often enough. I fight my partner all the time when he suggests it, thinking that nothing so simple can solve my problems (and what does he know about writer’s block anyways???), but unfortunately he’s always right — and it always makes me feel better. Sorry in advance to those on the west coast who might not be able to do this right now.

  • Give up for a while: Not forever, but maybe for a few hours, or even a whole day. Last week, when I was having zero luck with anything, I literally lay in bed and binged all of Indian Matchmaking. The next day, I was able to work because I wasn’t fantasizing about… lying in bed and binging Indian Matchmaking. Obviously this is way harder if you have dependents or an ASAP deadline, but hopefully there’s a way you can squeeze in some “I give up” time somewhere.

As a freelancer, life is going to keep happening — and we have to keep writing. 

I’m doing my best to be grateful for that freedom; believing if we follow the rainbow instead of the rain, we’ll eventually end up on the other side. 

xoxo

Susan

PS. Don’t forget about the bundle! Here’s that link again if you want to grab it.

Want to earn money as a freelance writer?

This will help

Hey all,

Popping in to let you know about The Writer’s Bundle — a super sweet deal for freelance writers.

My friends Lexi and Jess at The Write Life have packaged together 12 courses and tools on earning money as a freelance writer. 

The 12 resources available through this year’s bundle normally retail for $2,000+. But through this deal, you can get your hands on ALL of them for just $99. 

The catch? The bundle is only available until Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 11:59 p.m. PST. In other words, check it out now if you are interested!

Here’s what you get when you download The Writer’s Bundle: Freelance Writing Edition

✴️ Kickstart Your Freelance Writing Career, from Stephanie Land and Andrea Guevara (course value: $49)

✴️ Freelance Blogging in a Weekend, from Elna Cain (course value: $95)

✴️ How to Make Money Self Publishing Non Fiction, from Yuwanda Black (course value: $397)

✴️ Master Self-Editing, from Bryan Collins (course value: $297)

✴️ Breaking Into Media Q&A, from Kristin Wong and Alex Webb (event value: $99)

✴️ 38 Tips for Expert Writers on Medium, from Dave Schools (course value: $49)

✴️ ProwritingAid license, valid one year (editing tool value: $79) 

✴️ Pitching 101: How Writers Find Better Client Leads, from Carol Tice (course value: $97)

✴️ Turn Content Into Cash, from Heather Lloyd Martin (course value: $297)

✴️ 30 Days to Freelance Freedom, from Craig Cannings / FreelanceU (course value: $147) 

✴️ The Social Media Starter Kit, from Andréa Jones (course value: $297)

✴️ Productivity Power for Writers, from Tim Leffel (course value: $99)

Not bad, right? Here’s that link again so you can see all the deets: The Writer’s Bundle.

I’ll be back in your inbox with a life and writing update soon…

xo Susan

P.S. If you purchase the bundle through my affiliate link, you’re helping support this newsletter, and I thank you for that! But the truth is, I wouldn’t recommend this if it weren’t a great deal. These resources will keep you learning through the rest of the year!

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