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Biden“s labor nominee accused in Senate hearing of harming Uber, Lyft, others

2023-04-20T16:09:42Z

Julie Su applauds while being nominated by U.S. President Joe Biden to serve as the Labor secretary during an event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 1, 2023. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

President Joe Biden’s nominee for U.S. labor secretary, Julie Su, was attacked by Republican lawmakers as she testified before a Senate panel on Thursday for allegedly dismantling the gig economy and hurting companies such as Uber (UBER.N) and DoorDash (DASH.N)

Industry groups that represent such companies employing gig labor have launched an aggressive campaign to oppose her nomination.

They worry that Su would push nationwide policies similar to California where she supported laws that classified some gig workers as employees, which gives them benefits such as a minimum wage, sick time and healthcare.

Su, a civil rights lawyer and former California labor commissioner, needs at least 50 votes in a Senate where Democrats have a slim 51-49 majority.

Republican Bill Cassidy, the ranking member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said Su’s record in her role in California enforced 85 “controversial laws that dismantled the gig economy,” and hurt “Uber, DoorDash and Lyft (LYFT.O).”

He also accused her of eliminating independent contracting during her tenure as Biden’s deputy secretary of labor.

When asked by Cassidy if Su would commit to not pushing California-type regulations if nominated, Su answered, “yes.”

When asked if she would commit to not pursuing a joint employer rule – which would treat companies as so-called “joint employers” when they have indirect control over working conditions such as scheduling, hiring and firing – Su said “there is not a joint employer rule on our regulatory agenda.”

Su found unequivocal support from several Democrats on the committee on Thursday but support of all Democrats in the Senate is not a given. Crucial senators in Montana, West Virginia and Arizona, who voted for Su to become deputy labor secretary in 2021, are on the fence about her confirmation for the top job.

“The debate over Ms. Su has nothing to do with her qualifications … this debate has everything to do with the fact that Julie Su is a champion of the working class of this country who will stand up against the forces of corporate greed,” said Bernie Sanders, who chairs the committee.