While the mainstream media was busy covering unverified stories about Russia, the Trump administration quietly nullified what could have been an existential threat to many millennials’ livelihoods.
On June 7, U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta rescinded the Obama administration’s regulatory guidance on independent contractors. Whether they realize it or not, millennials working in the so-called “sharing economy” can rest a bit easier thanks to this action.
Back in 2015, the Department of Labor issued guidance that narrowed the definition of an independent contractor, causing panic among many businesses and their independent contractors. As attorney Matthew Disbrow observes, this Obama-era regulatory interpretation “arguably restrict[ed] the use of independent contractors to very few specific situations.” Within years or months, the fate of corporations like Uber and Lyft (and their drivers) could have been decided in court.
The DOL’s reversal is a major win for millennials and a huge setback for unions.
Millennials have made the sharing economy what it is today. Saddled with student loan debt and faced with a difficult job market, young people don’t mind sharing and being frugal in order to make ends meet. Moreover, they have increasingly turned to companies in the sharing economy for supplemental income and part-time work. These kinds of jobs provide the flexibility they need to help pay the bills — the type of flexibility that comes with being an independent contractor.
Sharing economy gigs can provide security and relief during tough times. About 70 percent of 18-to-24 year-olds experience an average of 30 percent or more in income fluctuations from one month to the next. This kind of income can provide a nice cushion for young workers when funds are low. Unsurprisingly, millennials comprise nearly 70 percent of the sharing economy workforce.
Meanwhile, union bosses hate the sharing economy with a passion as they continue to lose power over millennials. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters wrote in its newsletter: “Don’t let the term ‘sharing economy’ fool you. There is no sharing. It’s really just the one percent making money by stripping workers of the rights for which the labor movement has fought so hard to secure.”
Unfortunately, the labor movement has failed millennials by increasing the cost of labor for employers and reducing opportunity for workers. As a result, the labor movement is in a downward spiral. According to Labor Department data, only 10 percent of 25-to-34 year-old workers and a miniscule 4 percent of 16-to-24 year-old workers belong to unions. So much for “power in numbers”…
The liberal media continues to dismiss the Trump administration’s positive impact on millennials because its actions don’t align with their ideology and agenda. However, this boost for the sharing economy is not only a blessing for millennial workers; it’s a clear signal to unions that the era of Big Labor is over.