CA Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Taking Heat for Bill Killing Independent and Freelance Jobs

‘AB 5 is how you build a dependent, enslaved workforce, a workforce that eventually becomes institutionalized, which then evolves into an unabashed socialist way of life. An institution not chosen by the people, but one forced upon them by legislation.’

California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez is in a real pickle after her controversial bill, AB5 was signed into law to reclassify “misclassified” workers in California. There are already several lawsuits in the works to overturn the bill.

Assembly Bill 5 by Gonzalez, a former labor leader and Democrat from San Diego, will serve to significantly limit Californians’ ability to work as independent contractors and freelancers. It was revealed during Senate debate in September that the AFL-CIO wrote AB 5.

“This bill is the union caucuses’ main event of the year,” said Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Temecula) during Senate debate.

Gonzalez claims that originally AB 5 was designed to help independent contractors and freelancers.

In a Twitter thread over the weekend, when confronted by angry freelancers, Gonzalez turned on the charm:

“People are losing work and you expected blind worship across the board, did you? You seem to forget, you work for us. You get over it,” one freelancer replied.

Last week Gonzalez attacked freelancers after media outlet Vox fired 200 of their freelance writers because of AB 5:

“I’m sure some legit freelancers lost substantial income,” she tweeted following Vox’s mass firings, “and I empathize with that especially this time of year. But Vox is a vulture.”

“These were never good jobs,” Gonzalez said earlier this month. “No one has ever suggested that, even freelancers.”

AB5 puts in place a new test to determine whether a worker can be classified as an employee or an independent contractor. Gonzalez has repeatedly said the goal is to classify more workers as employees so that they can more easily unionize, and be eligible for minimum wage and benefits.

California labor law already requires the minimum wage. And the federal IRS determines the independent contractor status.

The IRS explains what an independent contractor is and is not:

The general rule is that an individual is an independent contractor if the payer has the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not what will be done and how it will be done. The earnings of a person who is working as an independent contractor are subject to Self-Employment Tax.

You are not an independent contractor if you perform services that can be controlled by an employer (what will be done and how it will be done). This applies even if you are given freedom of action. What matters is that the employer has the legal right to control the details of how the services are performed.

California Globe explains the two lawsuits:

The California Trucking Association, which has already filed a lawsuit, with the trucking industry already finding loopholes in the system to survive. For the freelance journalists and photographers the main sticking point is the maximum of 35 articles a year for independent contractors. Whereas before many could survive on writing a few hundred articles a year for a few different publications, the limit of 35 effectively puts many writers out of a job.

The Pacific Legal Foundation, on behalf of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Press Photographers Association, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against California and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra due to the scope of the law either reducing work or outright firing thousands of independent contractors across California.

However, AB5, written by the AFL-CIO, was only about increasing labor union membership in California – it was never about “worker protections” as Gonzalez claims. Otherwise, she would not have exempted any industries in the bill.

Former Congressman Doug Ose weighed in on AB 5:

In the Twitter threads over the weekend, Gonzalez appeared to be on the defense over the pushback she is receiving from people angry they are losing their jobs.

I replied: “Forcing independent/freelance workers into union agreements isn’t “helping” anyone except labor leaders. For a single mom, you appear tone deaf to single moms who like being independent.”

Another reply:

On Twitter, I replied: “A commitment to clarifying the language of AB5 will include publicly acknowledging the motive – that the bill was written by the AFL-CIO – not to help ‘misclassified’ workers, but to classify/unionize more.”

Gonzalez Tweeted referencing Vox: “They are hiring full@and part time staff in CA. And facing a previous misclassification class action filed long before AB5. This is a bad company that does bad things and wants to divert blame.”

There were many angry replies, but this one sums up the responders:

“Wait a damn second… your bill #AB5 is forcing companies to dump freelancers and ‘you empathize’ with them? Excuse me Assemblywoman Gonzalez, but when was the last time you need a ‘gig’ job to support yourself or your family!?! Your actions in Sacramento have consequences!!”

Everyone Was Warned AB 5 Would Kill Jobs

Earlier this year, Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) co-authored Senate Bill 238 with Sen. Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield), which would have conformed California’s test for determining employment status for purposes of wage orders to the test established by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee killed SB 238 on a partisan vote on April 24, 2019.

In fact, throughout the committee process for AB 5, Gonzalez was warned of the far-reaching implications should it become law. Editorial boards throughout the state, including the Orange County Register, San Diego Union-Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and San Jose Mercury News said AB 5 would endanger the newspaper industry.

Gonzalez was warned AB 5 could destroy California’s entire Gig economy if passed and signed into law. The Gig economy includes ride-share businesses like Uber and Lyft, and food delivery services Postmates and DoorDash – and apparently many more independent business groups.

A comment on a California Globe article about AB 5 went even further in describing the ramifications: “This is how you build a dependent, enslaved workforce, a workforce that eventually becomes institutionalized, which then evolves into an unabashed socialist way of life. An institution not chosen by the people, but one forced upon them by legislation.”

UPDATE: 11:30am:

Assemblywoman Gonzalez posted this on her Facebook page:

I anticipate a lot of false accusations by gig companies today about #AB5 and there is simply too much misinformation…

Posted by Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher on Monday, December 30, 2019


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