The office of Wage-Hour Administrator, a vital office in the functioning and direction of the USDOL, has now at long last, been filled.  On October 25, 2023, Jessica Looman was confirmed to this post, by a small margin of the Senate, 51-46.  Ms. Looman had authored the revisions to the Davis-Bacon Act, which favor employees (and unions).  She will now, from this position of power, likely move forward even more aggressively on the crucial issues (to the Biden Administration) of independent contractor misclassification and the narrowing of overtime exemptions.

The commentators have noted that Ms. Looman did not encounter the same strong opposition that David Weil did.  He was unable to secure the support of Senators Joe Manchin, Mark Kelly, and Kyrsten Sinema, but they did vote for her.  She even received one Republican Senator vote.  With that said, there is (naturally) opposition, especially from right wing Congressmen.

In that regard, the Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, Virginia Foxx, stated that she expects to see more of the “bureaucratic antics” in efforts to undermine what the Trump Administration did vis-a-vis independent contractor classification.  She also criticized the initiative regarding the Davis-Bacon Act and chided Ms. Looman for being a “former union official.”She asserted the Ms. Looman will throw “workers, employers, and independent contractors under the bus.”  She also criticized the DOL decision that the comments period on the proposed changes to the salary levels in Part 541 (the exemption regulations) remain at sixty days instead of a longer period of time.

Ms. Looman was a highly placed union official in Minnesota, being the Executive Director with the State Building & Construction Trades Council.  She also served as General Counsel to the Laborers District Council of Minnesota and North Dakota.  These credentials show the leanings she has, as well as previously holding a high-level position at the USDOL where she played a significant role in the exemption salary proposal and initiatives on independent contractor misclassification.  

The Takeaway

A union official as a high level USDOL official. Well, the Secretary of Labor was a former highly placed union official. See a pattern here? Her tenure can be counted upon to be 99% pro employee, expanding the (untoward) emphasis on alleged independent contractor misclassification and narrowing, through raising the salary level, the white-collar exemptions.

Employers, get ready…