According to a study by Upwork, 59 million Americans, or 1 in 3 workers, did freelance work in 2021. And 9 in 10 of them believe that “the best days are ahead” for freelancing.
(Self-employment, self-employment, contracting, gig work, and self-employment all describe work that individuals do independently rather than for a traditional employer).
But all that could change if the Senate decides to confirm David Weil as head of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.
Weil’s record in that same position under the Obama administration, and his statements and efforts to attack the self-employed, would not only weaken their bright prospects, but could jeopardize their entire livelihoods and way of life.
Self-employment was growing even before the pandemic, as the desire for more flexibility and autonomy prompted some people to switch from traditional employment to self-employment. The pandemic has only increased the desire for greater flexibility and autonomy. In 2021, 56% of non-self-employed people said they were likely to become self-employed in the future.
Another contributing factor to the rise of self-employment is that the boss-to-self model opens doors for people who otherwise could not work. In 2021, 55% of the self-employed said they were unable to work for a traditional employer due to personal circumstances such as health or childcare needs.
The self-employed are also significantly more satisfied with their jobs and work-life balance, with around half of the self-employed saying that no amount of money would take them from self-employment to traditional employment.
Many businesses, especially smaller ones, rely heavily on independent contractors to grow and compete with larger corporations. Employers with four or fewer employees use seven contractors, on average, to run their business.
Yet the policies advocated by Weil deny that working for oneself could be better than working for a traditional employer and that one’s working conditions, pay and hours are universally set by a union.
One of the main goals of the Biden administration and Weil is to implement the PRO Act – a Big Labor wish list that includes the reversal of freelance contracts.
But this is only the beginning. Among other things, the PRO law would also have the effect of: depriving workers of their privacy and their right to be elected by secret ballot; disrupt the labor market by disrupting the business model of the franchise; strike down right-to-work laws in 27 states; and legalizing secondary boycotts (subjecting neutral businesses to union-led strikes, boycotts and harassment).
With much of the PRO Act’s sweeping agenda not possible through due process or the reconciliation process, a Wall Street Journal commentary noted, “The White House will delegate the Department of Labor to implement some as far as possible by regulatory decree. Weil would be a chief enforcer, and history shows he won’t be shy.
Weil’s tenure in the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division under the Obama administration included regulatory measures that made it harder for people to work for themselves and harder for businesses, especially smaller ones. , to grow and prosper.
The attack on franchise businesses under Weil — based on an academic paper he wrote about it, as opposed to any real-world experience — is estimated to have cost franchise businesses up to $33.3 billion. per year, reduced employment by 376,000 jobs and caused a 93% spike in lawsuits against franchises.
The Trump administration has repaired this damage by correctly determining legal liability based on whether a company has direct and immediate control over a worker. But today, the success and survival of thousands of franchise brands, including approximately 730,000 individual franchises and 8.4 million workers, could be at stake, including 39% of women franchisees who say they would not have couldn’t own their business without the franchise model.
And Weil proved his audacity by ignoring the statutory limits of administrative authority. If upheld, Weil will likely attempt to reinstate his previous overtime waiver rule which was ruled “unlawful” by a federal court in 2016. The judge in that ruling – Obama-appointed judge Amos L. Mazzant III – said, “the department is exceeding delegated authority and ignoring the intent of Congress.
The job market is incredibly strong right now and a silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic has been increased flexibility and autonomy and more family-friendly work policies. Most workers don’t want to step back two years, let alone more than half a century, to the single industrial-age union model that Weil wants to impose.
Plus, with agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration already overstepping their statutory authority through vaccine mandates and testing on private employers, Congress shouldn’t arm the Labor Department with someone who has proven his penchant for overruling authority.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal