Henry Cuellar, the conservative, antiabortion Democratic congressman — who Nancy Pelosi called a “fighter for hardworking families” — has shocked the labor movement with a radical bill seeking to eviscerate workers’ rights.

By Liza Featherstone, Jacobin

Representative Henry Cuellar, one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, has introduced a bill eviscerating labor rights that would make the Koch brothers proud.

Cuellar’s bill bears a gaslighting moniker: the Worker Flexibility and Choice Act — joining the Clear Skies Act and the Class Action Fairness Act in the annals of bills whose names are the exact opposite of their actual intent.

Henry Cuellar sits at a desk

Cosponsored with Trumpian Republican Congresswomen Elise Stefanik and Michelle Steel, the bill creates whole new ways for employers to get out of paying minimum wage and overtime, extending the gig economy’s stress and chaos to millions more workers. As employment law professor Veena Dubal of University of California Hastings Law put it on Twitter, this bill would “make earning a living nearly impossible” for workers without bargaining power.

Cuellar, who represents Texas’s Twenty-Eighth District, gets significant funding from Koch organizations. That’s not surprising, since he’s been working to destroy Americans’ already fragile workplace rights for years. The scandal is that the Democratic national leadership fought hard to help him get elected. They did this not in a general election — against a Republican who might well have been even worse — but in a primary against a challenger, Jessica Cisneros, an immigration rights lawyer backed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Justice Democrats.

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