The Latest from the Prospect
 ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
OCTOBER 11, 2022
Meyerson on TAP
One More Pro-Worker Move From Biden
The Labor Department says if you make your living driving for Uber, Lyft, or FedEx, you’re an employee, not an independent contractor.
Notoriously, the federal minimum wage doesn’t amount to very much. It’s been stuck at a pathetically low $7.25 an hour for well over a decade, though many states have set their own minimum considerably higher. (In California this year, it’s at $15.50.)

Nonetheless, a proposed rule released today by the Department of Labor would effectively guarantee a raise for the thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers in California, who are mislabeled as independent contractors and thus not covered under state or federal minimum-wage legislation. According to a recent study, when the expenses they have to pay to buy, lease, and/or maintain their cars are subtracted from their income, their real hourly income comes out to be a less-than-princely $6.20.

Today’s proposed rule, accordingly, would raise that level by about a dollar, and more importantly, qualify those drivers for overtime pay and require their employers to pay into the funds for Social Security and unemployment insurance. Those changes would take place because the DOL’s new rule would establish more real-world standards for what constitutes employment—criteria such as determining the rate the drivers charge and what share they pay to the parent company, or, if they drive trucks for FedEx or other companies, whether those trucks can be used for other work or driver use—that sort of thing. It’s a “if it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck” rule. Which stands in sharp contrast to the rule, still on the books, promulgated by Trump’s Labor Department, which said if it quacks like a duck, all that matters is what’s most advantageous for the duck’s keeper.

Rulemaking is a prolonged process; the department will spend the next month and a half collecting comments on its proposal and then must take more time to finalize and effectuate its ruling. Once the rule is made official, however, its ramifications will be considerable—and considerably positive.

The DOL isn’t the only part of Joe Biden’s administration that has been considering this change. Under the leadership of General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, the National Labor Relations Board has been inching toward a decision that could rule the misclassification of workers as independent contractors to be an unfair labor practice, which would change their status to employees and make them eligible to form a union. For that matter, though it’s nowhere to be found in today’s 184-page proposed rule from the DOL, the reclassification of workers as employees that it envisions would also make them eligible to form unions.

Which just reconfirms the happy reality that the Biden administration is the first since Lyndon Johnson’sor perhaps, since Harry Truman’sthat understands that progressive government and the Democratic Party need unions if they are to prevail.

The Conservative Astroturf Organization Rolling Back Child Labor Protections
The National Federation of Independent Business has been active in passing new laws allowing teenagers to work long and late hours in three states. BY SARAH LAZARE
Cheers for Social Security’s Cost-of-Living Adjustment
It will compensate seniors for the bout of inflation. Workers deserve as much. BY ROBERT KUTTNER
A Progressive, and Persuasive, Case for a Politics of Persuasion
Anand Giridharadas’s ‘The Persuaders’ profiles activists, organizers, and change-makers charting a path to power through changing minds and ‘calling in.’ BY ADAM M. LOWENSTEIN
Donate to TAPs Midterm Tracker Travel Fund
to send our reporters to cover elections around the country. You can tell us where to go, too!  
Your 100% tax-deductible donation goes directly to the editorial team to cover expenses for reporting and travel.
Thank you for your support!  
Click to Share this Newsletter
The American Prospect, Inc.
1225 I Street NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20005
United States
Copyright (c) 2022 The American Prospect. All rights reserved.

To opt out of American Prospect membership messaging, click here.
To manage your newsletter preferences, click here.
To unsubscribe from all American Prospect emails, including newsletters, click here.

Email Marketing by ActiveCampaign