I have been reading some this morning on what we might expect for labor under a new Biden administration. Lots of speculation surrounding Department of Labor secretary and that will become a bit more clear as time goes on. The concerns I have are more of a day-to-day issue.
The first of my concerns is minimum wage. One of candidate Biden’s key promises was to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2026. This is an easy ask for a Dem controlled House even if the Republicans are able to keep the Senate. Also possible for the Republicans to give away in response for push back on another issue. It won’t be an easy task but look for it to be a visible issue early on.
Also on Wages. Under the Obama administration the Secretary had pushed to make it much harder for an individual to be an independent contractor. The intent is to get rid of the ‘gig economy’ such us Uber. California has a law that we may see a push to be mirrored in the rest of the US. As Politico has California’s Labor secretary as a potential for US Labor Sec. it is likely that classification as an independent contractor will be much harder. This could mean haulers and select other truckers that have been contractors will be considered employees… and subject to overtime.
Next is that of OSHA. OSHA has the fewest number of inspectors in its history right now. It is expected that a Biden led Department of Labor will push to get that number back up to and beyond that of the Obama Era. Couple that with the mandatory reporting we could be seeing a lot more inspections where we’re currently seeing self-investigations.
Another OSHA concern is that of the OSHA 300 electronic reporting. Prior to the Trump administrations changes, many businesses were going to have to report their OSHA 300 as well as their 300A forms. This means a lot more detail sent to OSHA. Additionally, they were going to make that information public. The terminology used in 2016 prior to the election was ‘public shaming’ and compared the disclosure as similar to a health department score you may see at a restaurant. It would not shock me if that rule came out of a Biden administration.
The last thing I’m going to mention (there could be many others) is that of organized labor. I don’t expect a lot in OUR world but I am expecting a resurgence in organized labor. Given there has been a good bit of activity in organized ag labor and one of the voices heard in the last round of congressional immigration reform activities was from organized labor, I wouldn’t be shocked to see more activity in agricultural labor organizing and particularly areas with large produce and H-2A activity.
There could be a number of other issues that may come forward in the next four years but assuming there are no changes and the outcome of the election as reported stays, I think it should be pertinent to brace ourselves for significant changes in the way of labor under a Biden administration.
I hope to write more upbeat articles in the future… I’m really not a Debbie Downer… I promise.