This week, the country’s most exploitative corporations are getting a big win from Representative Henry Cuellar, who once again proved his allegiance lies with corporate America after his introduction of one of the most appalling bills of the year: the Orwellian named H.R.8442 – Worker Flexibility and Choice Act. This bill, which would exempt huge swaths of the workforce from federal minimum wage and overtime laws while also blocking states from attempting to reign in the exploitative gig economy, is blatantly anti-worker.
This goes beyond those who work for apps like Uber or Lyft – it creates a huge loophole for a wide variety of employers to change their compensation system and exempt themselves from minimum wage and overtime laws, giving workers even less bargaining power and gutting the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Gig-based companies are spending millions of dollars to circumvent hard-fought labor laws and avoid paying their workers a fair wage, and Rep. Cuellar and his Republican co-sponsors are rewarding their investment by handing them a rubber-stamped bill. The Worker Flexibility and Choice Act is clearly designed to protect a business model built on labor exploitation.
Companies having no limitations on wages and working conditions will create a race to the bottom, leaving workers with very little control or power in negotiations. That is why we passed laws back in 1938 so that the government, as a representative of the people, could set a floor on the terms of employment.
It was, and still is, a mistake for the Democratic Party, and its leaders, to support an official who is clearly working in opposition to the policies that the party supports and is working on. Earlier this summer Representative Cuellar, with support from Party leadership, narrowly won a primary against Jessica Cisneros, an advocate for the rights of immigrant families who clearly represents the values that the Democratic party claims to represent.
With Representative Cuellar teaming up with Trump-backed Republican Representatives Stefanik and Steel, to destroy the rights of people who work for a living, it’s clear that he is a Democrat in name only. Cuellar sadly is promoting policies to allow large companies to further exploit Americans who work for a living.
If the Democratic party wants to continue championing itself as the party of the people, it must denounce this thinly veiled attempt to strip workers of fair wages for the profits of big corporations.”