- Trucking groups pounced on Julie Su’s involvement with California’s AB5 law in letters to the Senate committee that is considering her nomination as President Joe Biden’s next labor secretary.
- American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear implored the Health, Education and Labor Committee to ask four questions about Su’s views on the contractor law and independent carriers. Her responses are “extremely relevant as you consider her nomination,” Spear wrote in a letter Wednesday.
- The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association outright opposes Su’s nomination, “in order to protect the livelihoods and careers of the hard-working truckers we represent,” President and CEO Todd Spencer wrote earlier this month.
The deputy labor secretary’s previous work experience includes 17 years as a civil rights attorney, where Su represented 72 Thai garment workers who were trafficked into the U.S. and forced to work behind barbed wire, under armed guard, according to the White House. Her work earned her a MacArthur “genius” award.
But OOIDA, which represents 150,000 owner-operators, small-business motor carriers and employee truck drivers, argued her role in passing and implementing AB5 as California Labor Commissioner and state labor secretary are grounds to reject her nomination.
“Her record ... including her support for AB5 and overseeing its disastrous implementation, demonstrates she would pursue policies that threaten our members’ ability to use a business model they have properly and beneficially used for decades,” Spencer wrote in his letter.
Su’s nomination, following Labor Secretary Marty Walsh’s departure for a job with the NHL, comes as the Labor Department is working on an updated worker classification rule, the groups noted in their letters.
“There is the potential for this rule to make some improvements to worker classification at the federal level, but if Ms. Su is confirmed to lead the Department, we fear that we will see a repeat of what’s happened in California,” Spencer wrote.
The ATA, whose members skew toward larger fleets, is “gravely concerned” about the upcoming rulemaking, Spear said. But the group stopped short of opposing Su’s nomination.
Spear urged the committee to pose four questions — and carefully consider the nominee’s responses:
- Do you consider AB5 a policy success generally, and specifically as it relates to trucking?
- What is your message to self-employed truckers who were forced by AB5 to leave California to save their business, income, lifestyle, and freedom to earn a living on their own terms?
- Many independent contractors choose to operate independently so they can determine their own schedules, grow their earning potential, and achieve their desired level of work / life balance. Why should they be denied that right to choose their own career path?
- Do you believe that the USDOL should consider contractual safety requirements between a motor carrier and an independent contractors as evidence of misclassification and a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act?
It’s unclear whether the trucking industry’s concerns will hinder Su’s confirmation. She has received endorsements from the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and Congressional Black Caucus, as well as other support.