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The Hill Op-Ed: Julie Su’s confirmation would harm restaurants and app workers

BY SEAN KENNEDY AND KRISTIN SHARP, OPINION CONTRIBUTORS - 05/23/23 4:00 PM ET


Restaurants and app-based rideshare and delivery platforms have something in common. Our industries are powered by people who embody entrepreneurship and the American dream.

Our two organizations don’t agree on every public policy issue, but we both oppose the Biden administration’s nomination of Julie Su to lead the U.S. Department of Labor.


Our industries are filled with people pursuing their dreams to be their own boss and to create their own business. And during the pandemic, restaurants and app-based earners helped each other survive. Many restaurants were financially stretched to the brink, and food delivery apps proved to be a lifeline, both for restaurants and for those in isolation.


Since the pandemic receded, the worst inflationary pressures in a generation have driven restaurants’ food and labor costs up. Amid this record inflation, app-based work has helped millions bolster their family’s budgets.


But extreme workforce policies like those championed by Su in California pose serious challenges to our respective industries and the people and communities that rely on them.

With her support of California’s FAST Act and AB 5 legislation, Su has taken a firm stance against entrepreneurship and flexibility.


The FAST Act would create an unelected council with total regulatory authority over quick-service restaurants, including setting wages. AB 5 severely curtailed many Californians’ ability to work independently, and it would have done the same for app-based drivers, if not for Golden State voters overwhelmingly protecting their independence by passing Proposition 22 with 60 percent of the vote in 2020.


The policy preferences that Su has espoused do not reflect an understanding of our 21st century economy, nor do they evince a willingness to listen to the voices of the very people she claims to champion. For example, in the first national poll of app-based workers last fall, 77% said they preferred to remain working as independent contractors.


These are real concerns, as such policies would have real-world ramifications.

If Su’s policy preferences took effect, U.S. restaurants — 90 percent of which are small businesses — would face considerable cost increases and job losses. And 23 million U.S. workers–parents, veterans, students, caregivers, and many others who have chosen to earn with app-based platforms — could have their earning power greatly curtailed. We simply cannot take that risk when our economy already faces serious challenges from inflation, supply chain problems, and workforce issues.


We want to work with the next secretary of Labor to help restaurant owners and employees, app-based workers, and our customers thrive. That’s why the next secretary must have a track record of listening to diverse viewpoints and respecting the kind of opportunity and flexibility our industries provide.


The next secretary should have a vision that puts independent, entrepreneurial, and creative thinkers front and center — one that benefits millions of earners, consumers, and communities every day.


We hope that the Senate will keep in mind these millions of opportunity-seeking entrepreneurs, in both of our respective industries, as it fulfills its duty to advise and consent on administration nominees.


Sean Kennedy is the Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the National Restaurant Association. Kristin Sharp is the CEO of Flex, an industry association representing America’s leading app-based rideshare and delivery platforms.


Read the full piece here

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