Weil Doesn’t Deserve a Second Chance On American Labor

Originally Published in The Hill on 08/17/21 03:31 PM EDT

By: Tom Hebert

The Senate is soon expected to vote on the nomination of David Weil to serve as administrator of the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor. 

Weil, who previously held the post under President Barack Obamadoes not deserve a second chance to further his anti-worker, pro-union agenda. No Senator that cares about worker freedom should vote to confirm Weil, especially as our economy attempts to recover from a pandemic-induced recession. 

The Wage and Hour Division is a $330 million agency that is responsible for enforcing all major labor laws. While the agency is often overlooked, the Wage and Hour administrator has an enormous opportunity to shape the direction and enforcement of American labor law. 

Photo Credit: Greg Nash

Weil supports a litany of anti-free enterprise ideas and is not shy about using government power to advance his agenda. In a 2007 academic paper, Weil wrote: “Regulatory systems provide the government with tools to change private behavior, and those tools are usually related to enforcement activities.” 

Weil has a longstanding hostility to the American free enterprise system. Weil is a proponent of the “fissured workplace” theory which alleges that outsourcing, franchising, and independent contracting are responsible for just about every social ill. Weil has cited this theory as a justification to drastically expand the Labor Department’s enforcement authority to expand government control over American businesses. 

Weil would work overtime to dismantle business models that employ millions of Americans. Weil has inveighed against franchising, which employs an estimated 7.6 million Americans, as a “form of outsourcing.”

Weil supports expanding the definition of joint employer to include indirect control, drastically increasing the legal liability that franchisors have over franchisees. This would increase corporate control over locally-owned franchise businesses, which currently enjoy relative independence because franchisers have limited liability over their day-to-day operations. 

Upending the franchise model as Weil would do would threaten American jobs and small businesses across the country. Take Arizona for example, represented by Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly. There are approximately 14,530 franchises that support 153,300 Arizona jobs. Arizona franchises are responsible for generating $5.5 billion in payroll, $13.6 billion in output, and $8.2 billion in GDP. 

Weil also opposes the right to make a living as an independent contractor, issuing a 2015 memo that broadened the definition of employee so significantly that it made it impossible for businesses to work with freelancers. Approximately 59 million Americans engage in some form of freelance work, a number that has increased since the pandemic shuttered hundreds of thousands of businesses across the country. 

If that wasn’t enough, Weil supports doubling the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, a death blow to millions of American jobs and tens of thousands of small businesses already struggling to keep the lights on. According to a 2019 report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, a $15 minimum wage could kill as many as 3.7 million American jobs.

Worst of all, Weil would be in a pole position to enforce the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) if President Biden signs it into law, and could attempt to implement parts of the bill absent congressional approval. The PRO Act would nullify right-to-work laws nationwide, which prevent employers from forcing workers to join a union just to get a job. The PRO Act also nationalizes California’s onerous ABC test that imposes a whole host of unnecessary restrictions on Americans seeking to work as independent contractors. 

Ultimately, Weil is a left-wing academic that did more than enough damage to American workers during his first tour of duty as Wage and Hour administrator. No Senator should feel the need to give Weil a second chance to further his harmful agenda.