Julie Su's nomination is a blow to the nation's freelancers

Julie Su's nomination is a blow to the nation's freelancers
© Greg Nash

The Senate is expected to vote soon on Julie Su’s nomination to serve as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Labor. 

If confirmed, Su will wage war on the livelihoods of the 59 million Americans that engage in freelance work. No Senator should vote to confirm Su. 

Su’s nomination has been languishing in the Senate since her confirmation hearing on March 16th. Fearing a close vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) has repeatedly failed to advance Su’s nomination. 

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There are two reasons why the full Senate has yet to vote on Su’s nomination. 

First, Su has grossly mismanaged taxpayer money in her current job as California’s Labor Secretary. 

Under Su’s watch, California’s unemployment system paid out over $11 billion in fraudulent claims, totaling 10 percent of all benefits paid. Estimates show that a further $19 billion in claims were improperly distributed. An audit spurred by Su’s failed leadership showed that her work was a “high-risk issue” and “inefficient.” 

Second, Su has an extensive record of anti-freelancer views and a willingness to leverage government power to push her radical agenda. 

Su was one of the top architects of California’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) law, which instituted an arbitrary and vague three-stage test to prove a worker is an independent contractor instead of an employee. 

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The “ABC” test, which goes far beyond federal guidelines on independent contractor classifications, hampers the ability of California businesses to retain contractors who may operate within the scope of work sometimes performed by employees in similar circumstances. This forced the massive reclassification of Golden State freelancers. 

The ABC test is massively unpopular in California. It was so reviled that nearly 59 percent of Californians voted to implement an exemption for rideshare drivers in November 2020. 

Freelancers are a vibrant part of our society, and the ability to work as an independent contractor offers American workers flexibility that does not come with a traditional employment relationship. Freelancers are free to set their own hours, determine their own workload, and do not have to report to a boss.

Independent contractors come in all shapes and sizes. The Uber or Lyft you took last week had a freelancer behind the wheel. Your favorite Etsy store is run by an independent contractor. Medical transcriptionists, court stenographers, nurse practitioners, comedians, ballroom dancers, interpreters, and architectural designers often work as freelancers.  

While the work is incredibly diverse, American freelancers have one thing in common — they don’t need to report to a boss just to put food on the table. Small businesses also rely on independent contractors to keep the lights on, and often work with freelancers on projects that require a certain specialization or expertise. A recent survey showed that a national ABC test would lead to freelancers losing 76 percent of their work, and 45 percent of small businesses would permanently close without being able to work with independent contractors. Sixty-two percent of minority-owned businesses are “vitally or highly dependent” on side hustles to make a living. 

Independent contractors overwhelmingly prefer the freedom and flexibility of freelancing to the rigidity of traditional employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fewer than one in 10 independent contractors want to reclassify as W-2 employees. 

Instead of celebrating the ability to make money without a boss, the left wants to force everyone to have a boss to keep Big Labor happy. Su has bragged about her willingness to crush independent contractors with “investigations and audits” and confiscating “wages and taxes” to bully freelancers into reclassifying. 

Su’s mismanagement of taxpayer dollars and aggressive anti-free enterprise views are bad enough for California. No Senator should vote to give Su a promotion. 

Tom Hebert is federal affairs manager of Americans for Tax Reform and executive director of the Open Competition Center.