Trucking group calls on Biden to rescind nomination of DOL pick over AB 5 record

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Julie Su
Julie Su, President Joe Biden's nominee to lead the Department of Labor (DOL), faced the House Education and Workforce Committee this month – an appearance that was called to defend her department's budget request for fiscal year 2024 and testify on the department’s policies and priorities, yet became a heated discussion of her pending confirmation and laid bare the political battle lines holding it up.

Confirmation for President Joe Biden's pick to lead the Department of Labor (DOL) seems unlikely, so much so that one trucking organization has called for the administration to rescind her nomination. 

Julie Su's nomination remains stalled in the Senate, where she presumably doesn't have enough votes for confirmation. Her nomination has been unpopular among trucking stakeholders, mostly due to her role in passing California's AB 5 independent contractor legislation as California's labor commissioner, then as secretary for the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency.

Thursday, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) wrote a letter to President Biden, asking him to "withdraw the nomination of Ms. Julie Su to lead the U.S. Department of Labor."

"We believe the time has come to select a new nominee whose record demonstrates not only a commitment to improving working conditions for employee drivers, but also an appreciation for the benefits independent contractor status has provided owner-operators over many decades," wrote OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) and Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) each have voiced similar concerns pointed at Su's involvement in AB 5, yet to-date have not yet called on the administration to rescind her nomination. 

"Since her nomination [in February], Ms. Su has failed to acknowledge any problems exist with AB 5, despite the dramatic impact the policy has had on our members operating in California and beyond," Spencer continued. "She has also failed to adequately answer questions about her interest in pursuing similar policies on the federal level as Secretary. While we felt Ms. Su’s record in California should have prevented Senators from ever supporting her nomination, we believe her inability to answer direct questions involving the consequences of her work in California or intentions as Secretary are the reason she does not have the necessary support to be confirmed."

Su in testimony earlier this month said she sees the role of DOL Secretary – and her current role as Acting Secretary – as a rules enforcer not rule-maker, and said she was not calling for similar legislation at the federal level. 

Rather than allowing Su’s nomination to languish in the Senate, OOIDA and Spencer called on President Biden to "find a more suitable candidate to lead the Department â€“ one with a record of improving working conditions for employees and respecting industry-specific classifications that benefit and protect American workers, like owner-operators and employee drivers. To effectively lead the Department, your next nominee must not only be capable of earning labor and industry backing, but also substantial bipartisan support among Senators."

Jason Cannon has written about trucking and transportation for more than a decade and serves as Chief Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. A Class A CDL holder, Jason is a graduate of the Porsche Sport Driving School, an honorary Duckmaster at The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Reach him at jasoncannon@randallreilly.com.