As of right now, the office of Labor Secretary for the United States has been vacant for over a month. The Department of Labor’s acting secretary, Julie Su, is trying to move up and secure the top spot full-time. Everything seemed aligned for her ascension, from a Presidential nomination to a strong voting record, but now something stands in her way: Uber and Lyft.
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Su’s history as Secretary of Labor in California is full of pro-labor actions. Most notably, she had a hand in crafting AB5, a bill that reclassified large swaths of gig workers as employees — with all the accompanying benefits. The fight over Prop 22, to carve gig workers back out and deny them classification as employees, was a response to Su.
Now, gig economy companies are terrified that she may gain the power to write rules nationwide. They’re afraid of minimum wage laws, overtime regulations, all those pesky little legal things that the gig economy sidesteps — the pesky little legal things that would destroy Uber and Lyft near-immediately if enforced.
Su is opposed by gig companies, but backed by unions—the AFL-CIO has reportedly begun spending money to promote her as labor secretary, in hopes they can turn the tide of a precarious congressional hearing. Most of the money, however is stacked against her: Gig companies, restauranteurs, and lots of other people with a vested interest in paying employees less than minimum wage is pushing back on her nomination. The final vote could all fall down to the presence or absence of Dianne Feinstein, who hasn’t appeared in Congress in quite some time.
As a general rule, anyone backed by unions but opposed by Uber and Lyft is a person worth supporting. Whether Su gets the top job, however, is something we may not know until the moment votes are cast.
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