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An Unhappy Labor Day for California Workers

‘California state lawmakers just can’t keep their laws off our livelihoods’

By Karen Anderson, September 1, 2022 2:45 am

Labor Day pays tribute to America’s workers, but here in California, job-killing legislation and regulations continue to harm independent professionals, small-business owners and essential workers across the state.

Currently awaiting passage in the California State Senate, the bill known as Assembly Bill 257, or the “Fast Food Accountability and Standards (FAST) Recovery Act,” seeks to install a 13-member council of unelected political appointees, with no business experience needed, to oversee California’s entire fast-food restaurant industry. Appointed by the governor and by a scant few individuals from the Democrat-led super-majority legislature, council members would come from labor advocacy groups, unions, and the very state regulatory agencies that enforce labor laws.

This posse of union-backed appointees would have absolute power to establish wage rates, working hours and other broad rules that could put a small restaurant or franchisee out of business. Layers of burdensome regulations will inevitably result in increased operating costs for restaurants, higher prices for consumers and fewer jobs. A provision that allows the Labor Commissioner to pursue “joint employer” claims could upend the franchise business model and prompt some brands to leave the state altogether.

Meanwhile, another board of unelected officials continues to wreak havoc on California’s trucking industry. The California Air Resources Board (CARB), which determines emission standards in California, is comprised of 16 members appointed mostly by the governor. In just a few short months on Jan. 1, 2023, nearly one-quarter of trucks serving Los Angeles-area ports will be prohibited from entering the gates when the latest round of CARB rules banning engines older than 2010 could sideline 80,000 trucks in California. Because of manufacturing shortages due to the pandemic, the dearth of new trucks being produced makes it almost impossible for fleets to comply by the deadline.

If CARB doesn’t put truckers out of business, Assembly Bill 5 will. Now in effect on the trucking industry after ongoing legal challenges came to an end this June, the anti-freelancer law AB 5 applies to 70,000 independent owner-operator truckers who can no longer conduct business as independent contractors in the state of California.

The double whammy of CARB regulations and AB 5 on trucking can be traced to cronyism at the Capitol. The author of AB 5, former San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, recently accepted a position as leader of the powerful California Labor Federation representing 2,100 unions. Not coincidentally, Gonzalez’s husband Nathan Fletcher served on CARB from 2019 to 2022, appointed by Gov. Newsom during the height of Gonzalez’s destructive AB 5 policymaking.

Since its passage in Sept. 2019, AB 5 has shattered the careers of hundreds of thousands of independent contractors across a vast array of professions — everyone from transcriptionists, performing artists and pharmacists to forensic nurses, mall Santas, music therapists, translators, video journalists and tutors. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the California Trucking Association’s lawsuit against AB 5, more job destruction is on the way, threatening the already-tenuous supply chain.

Whether banning independent contracting, banning pre-2010 trucks, banning gas-powered lawn equipment used by gardeners and landscapers, or banning the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035, California state lawmakers just can’t keep their laws off our livelihoods. The heavy-handedness of their decisions fails to take into account the economic realities for the average small-business owner or solo-preneur. On this Labor Day, Sacramento should instead start focusing on retaining small businesses in the state rather than creating barriers and burdens that are bankrupting the working class.

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14 thoughts on “An Unhappy Labor Day for California Workers

  1. Karen, thank you for writing this article.
    You have articulated well the negative effects these regulatory boards have on independent operators of the trucking industry, freelance workers and small business owners,

    I can only conclude that our state government has declared war on hard working individuals and gives the upper hand to large corporations who are the big donors to the Governor and legislatures.

    I hope you do a follow up on how we as citizens can help to stop these actions.

  2. So why are these UNELECTED NGO’s Non-Governmental Organizations) being given proxy-voting status and the abillity to set policy in California???
    These agencies cannot be voted out of office, and these “back-room deals” do not make the light of day (except here – thank you for shining the light on these COCKROACHES, Katy & Co.!!!)
    Why isn’t the CAGOP up in arms, fighting this tooth and nail??? We can only assume that they are being PAID OFF by these unions with ‘hush-money” to keep quiet…
    That is why I delete their texts and emails, plaintively bleating for contributions…they DO NOTHING on our behalf, to FIGHT this abdication of political responsibility…
    California is DOOMED to a bleak future as these Communists slowly take over our state….

  3. As someone who was affected allot by AB5, I am very puzzled why California enacted that destructive law when they need every dollar in taxes, (A million of us not paying has to be hurting the state) How is California getting the funds to pay for all their programs? Programs that assist groups like day laborers, a group who pays little or no tax and does not follow the rules and laws whereas the rest of us had to! And the migrants who depend on fast food and restaurants jobs to pay rent and feed their families, If they lose their jobs will the state step up and cut them a monthly check? How about the state cut us checks first!

  4. Born and raised in California and for the first time I’m wondering what state I can move to. This state is making harder and harder to do business. As a small restaurant owner I’m ready to give it up and quit fighting the oppisitions to our business. Wage, insurance, food and utility increases, combined with staff shortages makes our family want to give it all up. You can only raise your prices so much before you price yourself out of the market.
    Thank you Newsome!

  5. Down with the internal combustion engine. It’s making the oceans rise. So the day is coming when people will no longer be able to drive their cars to work. Democrats are phasing out jobs so they won’t need to. I call that foresight.

  6. It’s not as bad as Anderson says. Gonzalez and the Labor Federation were forced to put gaping loopholes in their law for more than 100 occupations, including owner-operator truckers. The problem is the loopholes are wrapped in unreasonable requirements that befuddle and frighten independent contractors, employers and lawyers alike. Still, the narrative should be about using the loopholes, not over-the-top doomsday descriptions of the law’s impact.

    1. Owner-operator truckers don’t have an exemption, nor did Gonzalez ever give them one. Also, it’s a myth that more than 100 industries and professions are exempted from AB5/AB2257. Many of the exemptions come with caveats and fine print that make it difficult if not impossible take advantage of the exemption. Only a segment of musicians received an exemption for example, and even those exemptions come with restrictions that limit you to performing more than once a week at the same venue. Freelance Video journalism is banned. The Freelance transcription profession is extinct in California because of Ab5. Freelancing tutoring online is highly restricted under this law. Hundreds of categories of professions are left out in the cold. I have collected hundreds and hundreds of horror stories about lost livelihoods due to AB5 . Big Labor shills call us hysterical just as you did in your comment. But they turn a blind eye to the reality still playing out in real time affecting hundreds of thousands of career professionals.

    2. You sound just like one of those “big labor shills”. (See below) No? AB5 is a terrible, far-left, statist monstrosity.
      Shame on the legislature and voters for it.

  7. It’s like outlawing gasoline engines. California is a national economic bully. They punish other states for their politics, and punish industries who don’t pony up support or cash, and create and market the worst social trends to our youth. And now they are going to engineer a takedown of independent truckers – a very lousy job I might add. They sit and wait hours for a load. California wants the poor out of the port shipping business because no one speaks for them.

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