It hasn’t been mentioned much, but a major reason the Left wants to oust President Trump from office is to seize control of the Labor Department.
Politico reports Senator Bernie Sanders, Vermont’s “Sandalista Socialist,” has expressed a strong interest in becoming Joe Biden’s secretary of labor.
One reason is that Bernie’s beloved unions have seen their power and influence challenged in recent months by COVID-19. Independent contracting — everything from Uber driving to personal services to freelance computer work — has exploded as so many people are furloughed or cut back in their jobs. More than ONE THIRD of all workers — or 59 million people — did some work on the side this year as the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Upwork, a business search firm, says freelancers contributed $1.2 trillion to the U.S. economy this year in annual earnings — a 22 percent increase over 2019.
More than a third of new independent contractors started after the onset of COVID-19, and virtually all of them plan to continue doing some projects on the side.
Unions have convinced Joe Biden to announce that, if elected, he will make it easier for them to organize and bargain collectively on behalf of independent contractors. Biden wants a federal standard that employers must pass if they want to classify a worker as an independent contractor instead of an employee.
Under Labor secretary Eugene Scalia, the Trump Labor Department has taken the opposite approach. It has published the first rule ever that aims to simplify, clarify, and harmonize just which workers will be treated as “employees” covered by the minimum-wage and overtime rules and which can be their own boss.
Scalia has also aggressively pursued union corruption. For example, the president of the Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association was recently charged with raiding members’ retirement funds to pay for a second home, travel, and a car.
Julio Rivera, a small-business consultant, writes in Reactionary Times that many union leaders “are taking advantage of union members as they enrich themselves by using the dues collected, as well as the selling of the political influence they hold within their organizations.”
His reporting covers some sordid stories:
- There’s James W. Cahill, a New York union leader, who earlier this month was indicted on racketeering and fraud charges. Federal prosecutors allege that Cahill and 10 others accepted more than $100,000 in bribes in return for using their influence to help businesses who had hired nonunion labor.
- Former United Auto Workers president Dennis Williams recently pleaded guilty to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the union. Williams’s guilty plea came only a few months after Gary Jones, his successor, admitted to helping steal more than $1 million from rank-and-file workers.
- Then there is the Teamsters Union, a group so synonymous with corruption that it was controlled by outside federal monitors from 1989 to 2010. Chuck Stiles, the head of its Solid Waste and Recycling Division Director, has been accused by members of his union local of collecting a $60,000 dollar payout, for a “phantom job” — that’s on top of his annual $150,000 salary.
Stiles is now trying to leverage the increased support for the Black Lives Matter group into more support from unions. Teamsters are demanding they be included in stimulus packages with wage and benefit packages that compensate members who work with waste and recycling products.
However, Rivera writes that there is no evidence that Stiles or the Teamsters have been supportive of black political leaders. They are apparently using the BLM bandwagon to increase support for their own union’s wage demands.
Should Joe Biden become president, it’s pretty clear the direction federal labor policy will take. Its new overseer could be none other than Bernie Sanders, independent contractors would see attempts to bring them under union control, and a blind eye toward a lot of union corruption would likely be the norm again.
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