As direct sellers, we love talking about our businesses. And for good reason: we have so much to share. Only a few weeks ago, the stories of salesforce members were heard beyond our channel and by Members of Congress during Direct Selling Day on Capitol Hill.
On September 21, 2022, direct sellers from across the nation arrived in Washington, D.C., to help Members of Congress understand how direct selling provides a flexible and low-risk pathway to entrepreneurship, just as it has for the 7.3 million direct sellers in the U.S. today.
These stories resonate, and none among us should ever underestimate the power of our distributors’ voices. While presenting at the DSA Legal & Regulatory Seminar on September 22, United States Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) and Congressman Marc Veasey (D-TX) noted the impact that individual distributors’ stories had in shaping their decision to join the Direct Selling Caucus.
When our distributors meet with these elected officials and others, they help strengthen the channel’s effort to protect our distributors’ ability to build their businesses—which generated 42.7 million in retail sales in 2021 alone—on their own terms.
These meetings are critical in helping DSA urge passage of H.R. 5038, the Preserving the Direct Seller Independence Act. This legislation, which seeks to modernize independent work laws to keep pace with updates in the economy and with the nature of labor, was a critical legislative focus for Hill Day.
Reaching beyond elected officials, DSA and our channel’s voices are creating even stronger bonds with regulators at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Not only did attendees of the DSA Legal & Regulatory Seminar hear remarks by Samuel Levine, Director for the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, but DSA also recently filed comments questioning the need for the Federal Trade Commission’s suggested rulemaking on earnings claims.
At the request of DSA, four United States Senators and fourteen members of the United States House of Representatives submitted a letter to the FTC stating that the agency should heed the comments of DSA and other stakeholders before proceeding. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) referenced the Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC) as among the most successful examples of industry self-regulation in her presentation to DSA Legal & Regulatory Seminar attendees.
On yet another front, DSA has vigorously engaged with the U.S. Department of Labor regarding a proposed rule that could change how independent contractor status is determined for direct sellers and many others.
Specifically, DSA lent its voice to a forum hosted by the Labor Department and commented that any such independent contractor rule should not affect the current statutory status of direct sellers as independent contractors. DSA will remain a part of this ongoing rulemaking process.
We know that direct selling is a force for good. Amplifying our distributors’ voices and creating forums for them to engage ensures our representatives here in Washington, D.C., understand the channel and how we differ from others.
Brian Bennett is the Senior Vice President Government Affairs and Policy of the U.S. Direct Selling Association.
From the November 2022 issue of Direct Selling News magazine.