How this Labor Department candidate is threatening 59 million workers
According to a study by Upwork, 59 million Americans, or 1 in 3 workers, was in independent work in 2021. And 9 out of 10 of them believe that “the best days are ahead” for freelancers.
(Freelancing, independent work, contracting, gig work, and self-employment describe any work that individuals perform independently rather than for a traditional employer).
But that could all change if the Senate votes to confirm David Weil as head of the Labor Department’s payroll and hours division.
Weil’s track record in the same position under the Obama administration and his statements and efforts to attack independent workers would not only dampen their bright prospects but could jeopardize their entire livelihoods and ways of life.
Self-employment was already increasing before the pandemic, as the desire for more flexibility and autonomy led some people to switch from traditional employment to independent work. The pandemic has only fueled the desire for more flexibility and autonomy. In 2021, 56% of non-freelancers said they are probably freelance in the future.
Another factor contributing to the rise of independent work is that the own-boss model opens doors to work for people who otherwise would not be able to work. 2021, 55% of the self-employed said they were unable to work for a traditional employer due to personal circumstances such as their health or child care.
Independent workers are also significantly happier with their jobs and their work-life balance about half by independent workers saying so no amount of money cause them to switch from freelance work to traditional employment.
Many companies – especially smaller ones – rely heavily on independent contractors to grow and compete with larger companies. Employers with four or fewer employees employ an average of seven contractors to run their businesses.
However, the policy advocated by Weil denies that it might be better to work for yourself than to work for a traditional employer and have job conditions, pay and working hours generally determined by a union.
One of the main goals of the Biden administration and Weils is the implementation of the PRO Act – a Big Labor wish list that includes the reversal of independent contracts.
But that’s just the beginning. Among other things, the PRO Act would be too: depriving workers of privacy and their right to vote by secret ballot; turn the job market upside down by turning the franchise business model on its head; void right-to-work laws in 27 states; and legalize secondary boycotts (subjecting neutral companies to union-led strikes, boycotts and harassment).
Since most of the PRO Act’s radical agenda is not possible by either regular order or the reconciliation process, a Wall Street Journal commentary noted: “The White House will task the Department of Labor with implementing as much of this as possible through regulatory orders. Weil would be a Chief Enforcer, and history shows he won’t be shy.”
Weil’s tenure in the Labor Department’s Wage and Hours division under the Obama administration included regulatory policies that made it harder for people to work for themselves and made it harder for businesses — especially smaller ones — to grow and thrive.
Weil’s attack on franchises — based on a scholarly paper he wrote about it, as opposed to real-world experience — cost franchisees an estimated $33.3 billion annually, cut employment by 376,000 jobs, and caused a 93% increase in lawsuits against franchises.
The Trump administration has undone that damage — by correctly determining legal liability based on whether a company has direct and immediate control over an employee. But now, the success and survival of thousands of franchise brands – including approximately 730,000 individual franchises Factories and 8.4 million workers – could be at stake, including 39% female Franchise owners who say they would not have been able to own their business without the franchise model.
And Weil has shown his audacity to ignore legal limits on administrative power. If confirmed, Weil will likely seek to revive his earlier overtime waiver, which a federal court found “unlawful” in 2016. The judge in this decision – appointed by Obama Judge Amos L. Mazzant III– said: “The department exceeds its delegated powers and ignores the intent of Congress.”
The job market is incredibly strong right now and is a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic increased flexibility, autonomy and a more family-friendly workplace policy. Most workers don’t want to go back two years, let alone more than half a century, to the Industrial Age unified union model that Weil wants to push through.
In addition, already with authorities such as the occupational safety authority exceed their legal authority Through vaccination and testing mandates for private employers, Congress should not arm the Labor Department with someone who has demonstrated a penchant for transgressing authority.
This piece originally appeared in The daily signal