Intercept bureau chief on why insurers are lobbying against the PRO Act

Ryan Grim, The Intercept's Washington, D.C., bureau chief, said on Thursday that insurance companies are lobbying against the PRO Act because they rely on independent contractors as a source of cheaper labor.

The PRO Act, formally known as the Protect the Right to Organize Act, is a sweeping pro-union bill that would give independent workers the right to unionize. The House passed the legislation in March.

“You talk to anybody who's actually been an insurance agent and their business model relies on classifying people as independent contractors so that they don't pay them a salary, they don't pay them benefits, they don’t have to basically pay them period,” Grim said on Hill.TV's "Rising."

He added that a handful of insurance agents have to pay for their phones, rent for cubicles and brochures they hand out to customers, and in turn sometimes end up in debt. Others, he said, “barely scrape by” because “of the way that these companies are able to game the current classification system.”

Grim said insurance companies want this status quo to continue because their business models depend on “churning through endless numbers of people.”

“They don't want to have to treat people as actual employees because their business model relies on just churning through endless numbers of people,” Grim said.

“If you ever know anybody who's working in that insurance industry they'll probably tell you, ‘oh yes, you know, there were all of these promises that were made at the front end, and then at the back end it turned out that it was mostly just fool's gold,’” he added.