Gig News: Trump’s Secretary of Transportation Cheered by Uber & Lyft

Bloomberg reports that representatives of both Uber and Lyft have voiced support for President-elect Donald Trump’s choice of Elaine Chao for Secretary of Transportation:

“We have the utmost respect for Elaine Chao, an accomplished public servant and highly capable leader,” Adrian Durbin, a spokesman for Lyft, wrote in an e-mail.  “We congratulate her on the nomination and look forward to working with her on an array of transportation issues.”

Niki Christoff, head of federal affairs for Uber, said in an e-mail that “Chao’s knowledge of transportation issues is extensive and we look forward to working closely with her.”

Uber adviser Bradley Tusk called Chao a friendly appointment for the technology industry.  “In many ways, she may be the cabinet member with the most interesting and important tech policy issues out there,” he said, citing the department’s involvement in regulating autonomous vehicles to drones to the technology that decides how cars communicate with each other.

Chao, a former Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush, has previously made statements praising the gig economy and its labor model, which is predicated on classifying workers as independent contractors and not employees.  While the Secretary of Transportation does not apparently have a role with respect to worker classification, Chao represents a member of President-elect Trump’s Cabinet and former Secretary of Labor who will likely advocate on behalf of gig economy companies at the potential expense of gig economy workers.

Business Insider has also made note of Chao’s demonstrated support of gig economy companies.  Chao has favorably cited Uber’s self-reported data on driver satisfaction and compensation, despite the fact that such data can be misleading even when accurate.  She has also called on government to not stifle innovation by Uber and other gig economy companies.  While President-elect Trump has yet to select a Secretary of Labor, his choice for Secretary of Transportation indicates that, with respect to the gig economy,  Trump’s administration will be friendly to corporate interests.