California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez finally decided to cut out the middleman.
After a disastrous run in the state assembly, Gonzalez announced that she will abandon her elected seat to take a job as the next Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the California Labor Federation (CLF), a branch of the AFL-CIO.
We can’t blame CLF for making the offer. There’s hardly anyone in America who has more experience putting the needs of workers aside to push Big Labor’s agenda.
The highlight (lowlight?) of Gonzalez’s resume is AB 5, a law that forced hundreds of thousands of independent contractors in California to be classified as employees. Of course, the law’s biggest beneficiaries weren’t workers – it was labor unions. It’s much easier to organize workers when they’re considered employees instead of freelancers. AB 5 opened up a whole new pool of potential dues-paying union members.
For workers, it stripped them of their independence and flexibility. It wasn’t long until these independent contractors tried to find a way around this terrible law.
Freelance reporters were the first to be carved out of AB 5 shortly after the bill became law. Many reporters realized AB 5 limited them to just 35 reports per year (nowhere near enough to make a living) and the collective reporting community shamed the state into removing that provision to save the livelihoods of these reporters. Other professions were eventually exempted, including photographers, translators, youth sports coaches, and musicians.
AB 5 also affected most drivers for app-based companies like Uber and Lyft. Under AB 5, the flexibility drivers’ enjoyed was destroyed and prices were set to go up. To stop this catastrophe, voters passed Proposition 22, a referendum that ensured app drivers could remain independent contractors. The proposition passed with 58 percent of the vote.
And while several industries were eventually spared from Gonzalez’s terrible policy, many workers are still struggling under AB 5. But for Gonzalez, it paid off. She gets to walk away from her constituents and could even see a substantial pay raise from the job switch. According to a report from the Times of San Diego, Art Pulaski, Gonzalez’s CLF predecessor, received a salary of $163,854 – roughly $49,000 more than Gonzalez’s base Assembly salary of $114,877.
In other words, the status quo remains unchanged. Labor bosses continue to win while everyday workers suffer under misguided legislation.