Court ruling should kibosh anti-worker Biden pick

Julie Su should be voted down as secretary of labor

On Thursday, a Senate panel chaired by avowedly socialist Vermont politician Bernie Sanders is set to hold a hearing on Big Labor President Joe Biden’s nomination of tunnel-visioned forced-unionism proponent Julie Su as U.S. labor secretary.

Capitol Hill’s opposition to Ms. Su’s confirmation bid is mounting for several reasons. There are serious questions about Ms. Su’s competence.

As a National Review editorial opposing the pick noted, one of the “worst state-level benefits frauds in American history occurred” during her recent tenure as the Golden State’s labor secretary, “with an estimated $32.6 billion in [COVID-19] pandemic assistance being paid to scammers while Californians who actually qualified and were in need were put on waiting lists.”

But the single most important reason Ms. Su richly deserves to be voted down by the Senate is her relentless championing of AB 5, a 3-year-old, union-backed California law that in its current form makes it virtually impossible for workers in certain fields targeted by union bosses to support themselves and their families through independent contracting.

Ms. Su, who has been accurately characterized by The Washington Post as “an architect” of AB 5, and her cohorts implausibly claim there is nothing wrong with trampling workers’ freedom to be an independent contractor, because contractors would really prefer to be classified as payroll employees.

The reality is that surveys over the past few years have shown that the vast majority of actual contractors prefer independent work arrangements that give them the flexibility to set their own hours, work with multiple clients, and, in many cases, own the equipment they use.

And just recently it has become crystal clear that leading AB 5 champions in Sacramento never believed their own rhetoric about the supposed “unfairness” of independent contracting arrangements.

On March 17, a unanimous three-judge panel on the normally forced unionism-friendly federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled there is a striking lack of evidence that lead AB 5 sponsor Lorena Gonzalez, San Diego Democrat, and other key supporters of this legislation had any legitimate policy objectives in mind as they steamrolled it through the California Legislature.

Just recently, it has become crystal clear that leading AB 5 champions in Sacramento never believed their own rhetoric about the supposed “unfairness” of independent contracting arrangements.

On the other hand, wrote President Bill Clinton-appointed Circuit Judge Johnnie Rawlinson in his opinion for the panel, there is credible evidence that Gonzalez et al. were motivated by “animus” and “pure spite” directed at a handful of gig companies such as Uber, Lyft and DoorDash – and, more fundamentally, the workers who use these firms’ apps to connect with customers.

Mr. Rawlinson’s carefully argued opinion doesn’t spell out why Ms. Gonzalez and other AB 5 architects have no problem with allowing a wide array of workers, from professional dog walkers to musicians to yoga instructors, to be employed as independent contractors while aggressively acting to deny that option to transportation providers and food deliverers.

But the answer isn’t hard to guess. Top national union bosses like Teamster czar Sean O’Brien see Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash contractors as juicy targets for organizing campaigns that could ultimately pad their forced-dues coffers with additional hundreds of millions of forced dues dollars every year. But under federal labor law, ride-share and delivery drivers can’t legally be corralled into unions unless they are classified as payroll employees, rather than independent contractors.

The actual purpose of AB 5 is clearly to serve such workers up on a platter to labor unions.

With the notable exception of truck owner-operators, most other independent contractors, including those who work with app-based gig companies like Wag! and TaskRabbit, are not promising sources of forced-dues revenue for Big Labor.

Consequently, union-label politicians have not hesitated to exempt these companies from AB 5.

Julie Su is now openly admitting that, as U.S. labor secretary, she would exercise her authority to “reinterpret” federal law so it can serve union bosses’ objectives just as ruthlessly as AB 5 has in California.

But now that a federal court has exposed AB 5 as the forced unionism-promoting fraud it has always been, no senator who purports to care about what’s best for workers should help her carry out her aims by supporting her nomination.

This post, written by Mark Mix, the president of the National Right to Work Committee, was featured in The Washington Times.

It was also published in our monthly newsletter. Go here to access previous newsletter posts.

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