Biden’s Labor Nominee Can’t Muster Up A Home Run

by | May 18, 2023 | Gig Economy, Industry, Legal, Politics

President Biden’s nomination to replace outgoing Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh is proving to be more controversial by the week. Given that Julie Su has already served as U.S. deputy secretary of labor under Walsh, the opposition to her nomination would be surprising if not for her track record. After observing how her policies affected California businesses, let’s just say that companies are concerned.

Su is said to have met with countless lawmakers over the past few months, yet the Senate has moved no closer to a confirmation vote. Lawmakers are stalemated.

For his part, Biden is doubling down on Su, who served as the California Secretary of Labor under Governor Gavin Newsom. While in this position, Su championed a law that essentially rendered independent contractors nonexistent. As one can imagine, this law created chaos within the trucking industry and many businesses that rely upon freelance workers.

If propagated nationally, such a law could make it difficult for many businesses to stay afloat. An op-ed recently surfaced and explained why Su’s policies could further harm the national economy during an already fraught time. Eliminating independent contractors, for example, would make it more expensive for franchise owners as well as small and large companies to continue running.

Gig worker app companies are raising the alarm about how they could essentially be run out of business should Su push California’s policies into nationwide counterparts. Uber, GrubHub, and more could see their entire business models upended. Additionally, this will complicate matters for rideshare gig drivers who currently work for two or more companies and enjoy that flexibility.

Naturally, unions love Julie Su and champion her as pro-worker, although the GOP most decidedly disagrees. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell accused Su of being “totally asleep at the switch on anti-fraud efforts” in California. He argues that her installment as labor secretary could send supply chains into disastrous “ripple effects.”

Companies, as well, are divided. Some business leaders have applauded Su’s tenure in California, arguing that her record for combating wage theft speaks for itself. As we’ve already discussed, other business owners worry that she’ll make operations impossible with the independent contractor issue.

Julie Su’s rough road to confirmation doesn’t bode well for the legacy of a president who claims to lead the most union-friendly administration in history. Add this to the fact that incoming UAW president Shawn Fain decided to hold off on a Biden reelection endorsement. This is a situation that Biden indeed did not foresee, yet here we are.

To sum up, one would be hard-pressed to find a labor secretary passing of the baton that was as drama-packed as this one.

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