PROTECTING SMALL BUSINESS, PROMOTING ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Letter to Small Business Committee on “Growing Jobs Through Infrastructure Investment”

By at 6 May, 2021, 11:27 am

The Honorable Jason Crow

Chairman

Subcommittee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Development

Small Business Committee

U.S. House of Representatives

 

The Honorable Young Kim

Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Development

Small Business Committee

U.S. House of Representatives

 

Dear Chairman Crow and Ranking Member Kim:

On behalf of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council), I am writing to thank you for holding this timely hearing on “Growing Jobs Through Infrastructure Investment.” Job creation and workforce development are critical to economic growth and vibrancy – and of course will help boost recovery efforts from the devastation of COVID-19. Rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure can work alongside the solid economic recovery that is now taking shape to supercharge growth and competitiveness for the long-term, and we are hopeful a bipartisan package will emerge that unites the nation and works for all businesses and their employees.

Access to workers and skilled workers has returned as a top tier issue for small businesses, as economies have opened and the beneficial impact of the vaccine takes root, so it is an issue and challenge for the U.S. economy generally, and has the potential to be a drag on recovery and growth. SBE Council has long-supported a host of solutions to upskill America’s workers and encourage work in a variety of sectors where the need is greatest, so we believe much can be done both inside and outside of an infrastructure package to accomplish these goals.

PLAs Block Access to Skilled Job Opportunities

In order for an infrastructure package to effectively grow jobs and improve skills, it must be a package that is inclusive to union and non-union shops alike. Unfortunately, as proposed by President Biden, mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) would exclude most small businesses from participating in rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. This restriction would be a disservice to American workers, taxpayers, and the small businesses that could add tremendous value to a wide variety of infrastructure projects.

In order for all workers to have access to skill-building opportunities that infrastructure projects can provide, the package must allow for both union and non-union shops to participate in these projects. Again, a PLA-only package has the potential to widen the skills gap by excluding most of the small to mid-size businesses that could potentially help to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure. There must be fair and open competition for these infrastructure projects, which would result in fair and open access to skill-building opportunities for a greater share of American workers.

PRO Act Undermines New Business Creation and Harms Job Growth

The inclusion of the PRO Act in President Biden’s “American Jobs Plan” means the plan is not a serious plan for job growth. Eviscerating the independent contractor model goes to the heart of entrepreneurial risk-taking and the flexibility it provides many people to start and grow a business. Its inclusion in the President Biden’s infrastructure package would work against job growth and the organic and innovative skill-building opportunities that continually emerge from small and nimble enterprises. Excluding these businesses from participating in the rebuilding of our nation’s infrastructure is inequitable and wrong. Moreover, the PRO Act’s impact goes beyond the infrastructure package, as its scope is meant to affect all independent contractor relationships. According to a recent survey of small businesses by Alignable:

●  45% of those polled said the PRO Act could put them out of business, as “many small business owners depend on independent contractors to win business, manage their costs, and keep their businesses afloat.”

●  The majority of independent contractors (61%) anticipate losing 76% or more of their business.

●  Of the 9,059 small business owners who responded, 73% indicated in one manner or another that having access to freelancers was critical for surviving the COVID Crisis.

The goal of any infrastructure package should be to grow jobs and economic opportunities, not reduce them.

Conclusion

As the Small Business Committee and subcommittee review policy strategies and initiatives in the days ahead, we appreciate committee members’ focus on how these proposals will impact small businesses. As noted above, SBE Council strongly supports advancing a badly needed infrastructure package. However, it must be inclusive to all relevant businesses that have the capacity to bid on and deliver on these projects. That is how we ensure it benefits American workers in the most equitable way.

Thank you again for your support of small businesses, and please do not hesitate to contact me for questions.

Sincerely,

Karen Kerrigan, President & CEO

 

cc:        The Honorable Nydia Velazquez, Chairwoman

The Honorable Blaine Luetkemeyer

 

 

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