Skip to main content

Biden’s Labor Department reverses Trump-era gig worker rule

Biden’s Labor Department reverses Trump-era gig worker rule

/

The rule made it easier for companies like Uber and Lyft to classify workers as independent contractors

Share this story

Transportation Union And Rideshare Drivers United Members Hold Rolling Vehicle Protest Calling On State To Enforce AB5
Photo by Mario Tama / Getty Images

The US Department of Labor withdrew a Trump-era rule that would have made it easier for “gig economy” companies like Uber and Lyft to classify their workers as independent contractors. The reversal doesn’t change any gig workers’ current employment status, but it does signal that the Biden administration is taking a less friendly stance toward this sector of the economy.

The rule was finalized in early January, before Biden took office, and would have made it more difficult for gig workers to be reclassified as employees under federal law. Over the years, some gig workers have fought to be classified as employees so they could qualify for benefits like paid sick leave, health insurance, and minimum wage.

“Stop the erosion of worker protections”

Among the reasons cited for reversing the rule, the labor department said it was “in tension” with the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and would have “undermined” current jurisprudence on gig work in the US.

“By withdrawing the Independent Contractor Rule, we will help preserve essential worker rights and stop the erosion of worker protections that would have occurred had the rule gone into effect,” said Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh in a statement.

Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and other companies won a huge victory last November with the passage of Prop 22 in California. The ballot measure would exempt those companies from a state law that would have required them to classify their workers as employees. The companies aggressively opposed the law, arguing it would eliminate worker flexibility, while also increasing consumer prices and wait times.

Biden opposed Prop 22, arguing it was an attempt by gig economy companies to “gut” California’s AB5 law. “It’s unacceptable,” he tweeted on May 26th, 2020.

Among the gig economy companies, Uber has been the most forceful about taking its vision for the future of work to the national stage. The company has long advocated for a “third way” to classify its drivers. Last spring, in the midst of rising COVID-19 infections, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi penned a letter to President Trump advocating for federal legislation that would provide drivers with certain financial benefits while still classifying them as independent contractors. And the company has been lobbying for Prop 22-like legislative action in multiple states across the country.

But that could be tough to accomplish with Democrats in control of the government. Last September, a coalition of top Democratic officials introduced a bill that would tighten the federal test for classifying workers as independent contractors.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed 12:00 AM UTC Dimorphos didn’t even see it coming

R
Twitter
Richard Lawler12:00 AM UTC
A direct strike at 14,000 mph.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) scored a hit on the asteroid Dimorphos, but as Mary Beth Griggs explains, the real science work is just beginning.

Now planetary scientists will wait to see how the impact changed the asteroid’s orbit, and to download pictures from DART’s LICIACube satellite which had a front-row seat to the crash.


M
The Verge
We’re about an hour away from a space crash.

At 7:14PM ET, a NASA spacecraft is going to smash into an asteroid! Coverage of the collision — called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test — is now live.


E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 26
There’s a surprise in the sky tonight.

Jupiter will be about 367 million miles away from Earth this evening. While that may seem like a long way, it’s the closest it’s been to our home planet since 1963.

During this time, Jupiter will be visible to the naked eye (but binoculars can help). You can check where and when you can get a glimpse of the gas giant from this website.


Asian America learns how to hit back

The desperate, confused, righteous campaign to stop Asian hate

Esther WangSep 26
E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 26
Missing classic Mario?

One fan, who goes by the name Metroid Mike 64 on Twitter, just built a full-on 2D Mario game inside Super Mario Maker 2 complete with 40 levels and eight worlds.

Looking at the gameplay shared on Twitter is enough to make me want to break out my SNES, or at least buy Super Mario Maker 2 so I can play this epic retro revamp.


R
External Link
Russell BrandomSep 26
The US might still force TikTok into a data security deal with Oracle.

The New York Times says the White House is still working on TikTok’s Trump-era data security deal, which has been in a weird limbo for nearly two years now. The terms are basically the same: Oracle plays babysitter but the app doesn’t get banned. Maybe it will happen now, though?


R
Youtube
Richard LawlerSep 26
Don’t miss this dive into Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion Pinocchio flick.

Andrew Webster and Charles Pulliam-Moore covered Netflix’s Tudum reveals (yes, it’s going to keep using that brand name) over the weekend as the streamer showed off things that haven’t been canceled yet.

Beyond The Way of the Househusband season two news and timing information about two The Witcher projects, you should make time for this incredible behind-the-scenes video showing the process of making Pinocchio.


R
External Link
Russell BrandomSep 26
Edward Snowden has been granted Russian citizenship.

The NSA whistleblower has been living in Russia for the 9 years — first as a refugee, then on a series of temporary residency permits. He applied for Russian citizenship in November 2020, but has said he won’t renounce his status as a U.S. citizen.


E
External Link
Emma RothSep 26
Netflix’s gaming bet gets even bigger.

Even though fewer than one percent of Netflix subscribers have tried its mobile games, Netflix just opened up another studio in Finland after acquiring the Helsinki-based Next Games earlier this year.

The former vice president of Zynga Games, Marko Lastikka, will serve as the studio director. His track record includes working on SimCity BuildIt for EA and FarmVille 3.


A
External Link
Vietnam’s EV aspirant is giving big Potemkin village vibes

Idle equipment, absent workers, deserted villages, an empty swimming pool. VinFast is Vietnam’s answer to Tesla, with the goal of making 1 million EVs in the next 5-6 years to sell to customers US, Canada and Europe. With these lofty goals, the company invited a bunch of social media influencers, as well as some auto journalists, on a “a four-day, multicity extravaganza” that seemed more weird than convincing, according to Bloomberg.


J
James VincentSep 26
Today, 39 years ago, the world didn’t end.

And it’s thanks to one man: Stanislav Petrov, a USSR military officer who, on September 26th, 1983, took the decision not to launch a retaliatory nuclear attack against the US. Petrov correctly guessed that satellite readings showing inbound nukes were faulty, and so likely saved the world from nuclear war. As journalist Tom Chivers put it on Twitter, “Happy Stanislav Petrov Day to those who celebrate!” Read more about Petrov’s life here.


Soviet Colonel who prevented 1983 nuclear response
Photo by Scott Peterson/Getty Images
J
The Verge
James VincentSep 26
Deepfakes were made for Disney.

You might have seen the news this weekend that the voice of James Earl Jones is being cloned using AI so his performance as Darth Vader in Star Wars can live on forever.

Reading the story, it struck me how perfect deepfakes are for Disney — a company that profits from original characters, fans' nostalgia, and an uncanny ability to twist copyright law to its liking. And now, with deepfakes, Disney’s most iconic performances will live on forever, ensuring the magic never dies.


E
External Link
Hurricane Fiona ratcheted up tensions about crypto bros in Puerto Rico.

“An official emergency has been declared, which means in the tax program, your physical presence time is suspended,” a crypto investor posted on TikTok. “So I am headed out of the island.” Perhaps predictably, locals are furious.


R
The Verge
Richard LawlerSep 26
Teen hacking suspect linked to GTA 6 leak and Uber security breach charged in London.

City of London police tweeted Saturday that the teenager arrested on suspicion of hacking has been charged with “two counts of breach of bail conditions and two counts of computer misuse.”

They haven’t confirmed any connection with the GTA 6 leak or Uber hack, but the details line up with those incidents, as well as a suspect arrested this spring for the Lapsus$ breaches.