GOP Lawmaker Calls for Contractor Rule Suspension

Rep. Kevin Kiley Raises Concerns in Letter to Department of Labor Head Julie Su
truck and driver in silhouette
The new Labor Department rule outlines certain factors for companies to evaluate and ultimately determine whether an employee’s classification meets a standard of an independent contractor. (shotbydave/Getty Images)

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The chairman of a House subcommittee focused on workforce issues is among a contingent of lawmakers advancing a congressional maneuver that would pause enforcement of a federal employee classification rule that affects truck drivers.

Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-Calif.) recently urged Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su to suspend the Biden administration rule, which mirrors a similar California law that aims to reclassify some independent contractors as company employees. Kiley, chairman of the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee, is among dozens of House lawmakers and senior senators who have unveiled a joint resolution of disapproval specific to the rule. A vote on the procedural effort has yet to be scheduled, but if approved would pause the law’s enforcement.

The new Labor Department rule outlines certain factors for companies to evaluate and ultimately determine whether an employee’s classification meets a standard of an independent contractor. The rule is modeled after the California law AB 5, which was informed partly by Su. Kiley has also been critical of Su’s nomination to lead the Labor Department due to her support of AB 5.

“The [Biden] rule will jeopardize the ability of millions of Americans to work as independent contractors," Kiley wrote in a March 11 letter to Su. “ We’ve seen the effects of this rule before when California, under your leadership, implemented AB 5 and thousands of livelihoods were lost. This national version of AB 5 will cause even greater disruption and lead to even more heartache for American families.”

He continued, “Our nation’s workers and businesses need stability and clear direction. A decision to plow ahead with the rule before the courts can finish their review exacerbates confusion and disruption. This uncertainty is the enemy of growth and prosperity. You can end all of that by simply pausing the rule until the courts complete their work. I urge you to take this simple and prudent step to protect American jobs.”

“The Biden administration’s priority should not be to do whatever makes it easier to forcibly and coercively unionize workers. It should be to increase individual freedom and opportunity,” added Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), the resolution’s co-sponsor. “This new Biden rule does the opposite, jeopardizing 27 million workers’ ability to make their own hours and make a living without being pressured into joining a union.”

“Independent contractors, entrepreneurs, and small businesses are fed up with the Department of Labor continually breathing down their necks,” House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) said earlier this month, as she expressed support for the joint resolution.

Freight stakeholders, such as American Trucking Associations, have consistently raised concerns regarding changes to independent truck drivers’ business model.

“More than 350,000 truckers choose to work as independent contractors because of the economic opportunity it creates and the flexibility it provides, enabling them to run their own business and choose their own hours and routes,” said ATA President Chris Spear. “The Biden administration’s [independent contractor] rule eliminates this freedom and intentionally undermines the livelihoods of truckers and their families across the country by replacing a clear, straightforward standard with a tangled mess that will weaken our supply chain.”

“Had Julie Su actually spoken with drivers — not just big labor bosses — she would know this firsthand,” Spear continued. “The ATA stands firmly behind Rep. Kiley and Sen. Cassidy’s effort to defeat this ill-advised rule, and we will continue to work alongside them and other members of Congress to protect Americans’ right to earn a living in the way that they choose.”

Last month, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee advanced along party lines Su’s nomination to the floor of the chamber. Senate Democrats governing in the majority have yet to schedule a vote to confirm her.

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