Biden’s Labor Secretary Thinks Many Gig Workers Should be Reclassified as Employees

Biden Labor Secretary Marty Walsh complained on the white hot issue of the gig economy on Thursday, insisting that many people working without benefits in the gig economy should be classified as employees instead. In an interview with Reuters, Walsh said the Labor Department was “looking” at the gig economy, indicating that rebuilding workers could be a priority for the Biden administration.

“… In many cases gig employees should be classified as employees,” Walsh said. “In some cases they are treated with respect and in some cases they are not and I think it has to be consistent across the whole board.” Walsh added that the Department of Labor would talk to organizations that benefit employees to ensure that non-employees at those organizations have the same benefits that an “average employee” in the United States would receive.

“These companies are making a profit and I’m not going to judge anyone for it” because that’s what we’re doing America … but we want to make sure that success goes to the workers, “Walsh said. Walsh’s comments are not yet supported by federal action, but nonetheless, they still create a big wave among tech firms that rely on non-employee labor. Stocks of Uber and Lyft sank in the news on Thursday along with Doordash. 

In the interview, Walsh also touched on epidemic concerns about Gig workers who lack unemployment insurance and health care through their employers. The federal government provides some benefits to gig workers with two large bills during the epidemic, but in most cases it spreads without a safety net. Reforming labor laws has been at the heart of Biden’s platform for some time, and the president has been vocal about protecting workers and supporting organized labor.

Part of the then President-elect Biden’s transition site was dedicated to expanding workers ‘safety, and workers’ misconduct was referred to as contract workers by the “epidemic.” In a joint speech to Congress on Wednesday night, Biden echoed his earlier support for labor unions in protest of the Protection Management Act – a law that would protect workers from forming or joining unions. The bill would also extend federal whistleblower protections. “The middle class built this country,” Biden said. “And unions build the middle class.”