Economy

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s Attempts to “Fix” AB 5 Show Why it should not Exist in the First Place

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez doesn’t have any idea of what the people want. Either that or she simply doesn’t care about what they want.

Her disastrous AB 5 has already generated a tsunami of backlash from working-class Californians who have lost their freedom to choose where, when, and for whom to work. Though she might be able to ignore her constituents, she can’t ignore the actions of her fellow legislators, who have brought forth many bills in hopes of repealing her destructive legislation.

In hopes of addressing these concerns, Gonzalez has made an attempt to amend AB 5 to allow a bit more leeway for certain freelancers to remain independent.

 

It comes off as quite strange that Gonzalez seems so eager to amend her bill, considering how she’s been vocal about the fact that AB 5 was only made to codify Dynamex West Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, a California Supreme Court decision related to the classification of employees as independent contractors. Gonzalez has repeatedly said that the State Legislature had no choice but to codify the Court’s decision.

But if that’s the case (it’s not), then why are special exemptions able to be amended into the law? If the Legislature can exempt certain industries and workers without judicial repercussions, then what is the obligation to apply the Dynamex decision in the first place?

If AB 5 was made to codify an existing judicial decision, it shouldn’t need any changes. Dynamex has been “in place” in California since 2018 without adversely affecting the freelance population, so why has AB 5—the “codified” application—resulted in so much backlash and required so many changes?

The answer is that they’re truly not one and the same. The Dynamex ruling served as the legal footing for employees who felt unfairly classified as freelancers, not to reclassify freelancers as employees. Doing the latter was infringing on the rights of workers to control their own labor. That’s part of the reason why the passage of AB 5 drew so much criticism from across the political spectrum.

Simply put, not many people were asking for something like this in the first place. It’s one thing to have legal precedence for freelancers to demand equal treatment as employees. It’s another thing entirely to force businesses to take on workers who want to remain independent contractors.

Don’t let Gonzalez’s rhetoric fool you. AB 5 isn’t codifying Dynamex, it’s codifying the labor union agenda over the needs and preferences of California workers. Californians need to continue pressuring their legislators to overturn this disastrous legislation and protect workers’ rights.