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‘We’re Road Kill’: Independent Contractor Advocates Sound Alarm Over Biden Labor Nominee’s ‘Anti-Business’ Record

  • Two groups that advocate for independent contractors and small businesses are sounding the alarm on President Joe Biden’s Labor Secretary nominee, Julie Su, for her “anti-labor” record in California where she was labor head.
  • Su, who is up for confirmation on Thursday, pushed Assembly Bill 5, which made it more difficult to be an independent contractor in California, and Karen Anderson, founder of Freelancers Against AB 5, and Rachel Tripp, spokesperson for Stand Against Su, worry Su could enforce similar regulations on small businesses and the gig economy nationwide if confirmed, they told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
  • “Julie Su thinks that AB 5 is a model for the nation,” said Anderson. “So you tell me, is that a model for the nation? I don’t think so.”

Two pro-independent contractor groups sounded the alarm on President Joe Biden’s Labor Secretary nominee Julie Su for her “anti-labor” record in California, they told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Su, the deputy to resigned Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, faces a confirmation hearing on Thursday, and is receiving push back regarding her implementation of Assembly Bill 5 during her time as Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom‘s Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Agency. Su has made it clear that she would expand on her “anti-business” record in California if confirmed as the country’s labor head, which would devastate independent contractors and small businesses across the nation, the critics told the DCNF.

Karen Anderson, founder and president of Freelancers Against AB 5, told the DCNF that Su’s nomination for Labor secretary is “inexplicable” after the bill’s “stranglehold” on small businesses and independent contractors across the state, she told the DCNF. Anderson experienced the effects of Su’s control over California’s labor, and said the Su-backed legislation posed “an existential threat to my career.”

AB 5 required companies to reclassify independent contractors, or gig workers, as employees so that they may be treated as full-time employees, receiving minimum wage, Social Security, healthcare, paid time off and other benefits. This had detrimental effects on both California businesses and workers, as businesses could not afford to reclassify their independent contractors as full-time employees, resulting in increased job loss for gig workers, according to Fountain.

Proponents of AB 5 sought to reform California’s labor laws and provide full-time employment benefits to every worker, according to CalMatters. Democratic state Rep. Lorena Gonzalez, an advocate of organized labor, wrote the legislation in attempts to strengthen worker’s rights and improve income inequality.

“She [Su] would be bringing California’s dumpster fire to the entire nation,” Anderson told the DCNF. “If she were the labor head, she would be aggressively doubling down on these very destructive policies from California, and threaten the livelihoods of tens of millions of independent contractors, small businesses and industries nationwide.”

Newly-classified employees are eligible to take part in labor unions — which is why Su was largely advocating for AB 5 — as independent contractors couldn’t participate in collective bargaining, according to Anderson.

“It’s unions, unions, unions,” Anderson told the DCNF. “They don’t care that we’re road kill.”

Freelancers Against AB 5 is working with Stand Against Su — a coalition of independent contractors, franchisees and small businesses — to oppose Su’s confirmation. The coalition believes Su’s “anti-business” and “anti-worker” record in California makes her unfit to serve as Labor Secretary.

“The stakes that we’ve seen play out in California are exactly the stakes that are now really in play for the entire nation if Julie Su were to be confirmed,” Rachel Tripp, spokesperson for Stand Against Su, told the DCNF. “Would she be a Labor Secretary constantly pushing for new legislative solutions that in fact would just be increasing restriction, increasing regulation, making it harder to be a business owner, to be a tipped worker, to be an independent contractor?”

While some professions were exempt from AB 5, like doctors, lawyers and real estate agents, employers had to prove that their independent contractors met a three-pronged criteria in order to avoid reclassifying them as employees.

“The person is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, the person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business, and the person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business,” the bill reads.

The exemptions seemed “arbitrary” to Anderson, as some similar professions to those exempt did not meet the requirements. For instance, doctors are exempt, but nurse practitioners aren’t, and proof readers have an exemption but transcriptionists don’t, which Anderson said has “devastated” seniors who make up that profession.

“Seniors in my group are particularly screwed by AB 5, because who’s going to hire a senior full-time to make up for the opportunities that they were thriving at?” said Anderson.

Stand Against Su is not only highlighting Su’s record on AB 5, but also her oversight of fraudulent unemployment payments, mounting debt and payroll tax increases, as well as advocating for a bill that threatened franchisees, according to Stand Against Su’s website.

Almost $40 billion in fraudulent unemployment payments were made during Su’s time as the labor head in California, according to California Globe. California’s Unemployment Fund reached roughly $18 billion in debt that small business owners are still making up for with increased payroll taxes, according to the state’s Employment Development Department.

During her time as deputy labor secretary, Su advocated for the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, which attempted to establish new standards for minimum wage, hours and conditions across the industry, according to Forbes.

“These are the kinds of things that are very concerning when we look at her history and the way that she’s approached opportunities to either be an advocate or a road block for economic success for certain types of workers and business owners,” said Tripp.

Stand Against Su launched an advertising campaign via billboards in Arizona, Montana and West Virginia, as well as a letter-writing operation, all to encourage senators to oppose Su’s confirmation.

Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has pumped the brakes on a Su confirmation, and relayed his deep concerns to the Biden administration, though, he hasn’t made a final decision. Manchin’s disapproval, along with other expected opposition from the Senate GOP and possibly Independent Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, could be enough to block Su’s confirmation.

“Julie Su thinks that AB 5 is a model for the nation,” said Anderson. “So you tell me, is that a model for the nation? I don’t think so.”

Su did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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