November 5, 2015
ASTA Communication Department
Alexandria, VA, November 5, 2015 – The American Society of Travel agents (ASTA) joined a select group of trade associations, think tanks, law firms and other stakeholders at a roundtable convened Wednesday by the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce to discuss emerging workforce trends.
ASTA was represented at the invitation-only event by Eben Peck, senior vice president, government & industry affairs and Peter Lobasso, general counsel, who discussed the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) recent guidance related to the classification of independent contractors (ICs) under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
"We were proud to represent ASTA members and share our industry's perspectives at the roundtable, which couldn't have come at a better time given the DOL's recent moves on IC issues," said Peck. "Our position on this issue is simple–the independent contracting system is a critical part of the way our industry operates and should remain a viable option for travel agencies. We oppose proposals to undo longstanding protections for businesses that rely on the services of legitimate ICs."
As with other industries represented at the roundtable, travel agencies rely heavily on the services of ICs. According to ASTA's latest Labor and Compensation member survey, 65 percent of ASTA member agencies reported using at least one IC, and those who do use ICs use an average of 11 of them per agency. All told, an estimated 20,000 ICs work in the travel agency industry–equivalent to 20 percent of the total industry workforce.
Attending the roundtable were eight members of Congress: Reps. John Kline (R-MN), Chair of the Committee on Education and the Workforce; Tim Walberg (R-MI), Chair of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections; Virginia Foxx (R-NC); Phil Roe (R-TN); Todd Rokita (R-IN); Glenn Grothman (R-WI); Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Rick Allen (R-GA).
Presentations were made by the National Association of Home Builders, Uber, MBO Partners and Seyfarth Shaw LLP, with supporting commentary from ASTA, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Coalition to Protect Independent Entrepreneurs, among others.
ASTA plans to meet with the professional staff of the committee in the next few weeks to discuss not only IC issues but also DOL's separate proposal to increase the threshold for overtime eligibility.
Rebranded in 2018 as the American Society of Travel Advisors, ASTA is the leading global advocate for travel advisors, the travel industry and the traveling public. Its members represent 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through the travel agency distribution channel. Together with hundreds of internationally-based members, ASTA’s history of industry advocacy traces back to its founding in 1931 when it launched with the mission to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. For more information about the Society, visit ASTA.org. Consumers can connect with an ASTA travel advisor at TravelSense.org.