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CLF leader Lorena Gonzalez. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Former Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Sworn In As Head of California Labor Federation

‘She doesn’t think long term, nor does she talk with the right people to see what the needs really are’

By Evan Symon, July 28, 2022 2:30 am

Former Democrat Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, best known for authoring the controversial AB 5 independent contractor reclassification law, was sworn in as the next Executive Secretary Treasurer of the California Labor Federation (CLF) on Wednesday, making her the leader of the largest labor union organization in the state.

Gonzalez, a graduate of Stanford University, Georgetown University, and UCLA, got her start in politics in the early 2000’s as a senior advisor to then-Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante. However, her background as a community activist and organizer won her influence among those in labor, as well as a failed run for San Diego City Council against future Mayor Kevin Faulconer in 2005, culminated with her becoming the CEO and Secretary-Treasurer of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO in 2008.

After five years as one of the most powerful labor leaders in the state, Gonzalez was elected to the Assembly in 2013, where she quickly became one of the top union and worker advocates in Sacramento. Among some of her more notable bills were AB 1522, a 2014 bill-turned-law that granted sick days to part-time employees, and AB 480, a 2017 passed bill that added child care product subsidies for parents entering the workforce while coming off of welfare.

However, by far her largest and most controversial legislation was AB 5, the 2019 law that drastically altered the independent contractor worker landscape in the state by having most independent contractor employees be reclassified as employees. While the aim was to have more workers provided labor protections and more benefits such as health coverage, the law instead hurt many independent contractors, caused many companies to hire fewer people because of the increased costs, and proved to be so inconsistent that the law has consistently been altered – even before it became law in 2020.

While AB 5 has been somewhat weakened since becoming law, with many industries such as rideshare companies and trucking groups fighting to remain exempt through legal action and voter propositions, it still stands in California as of July 2022 and remains a major victory for the labor movement in California.

However, during this time, Gonzalez also failed to be elevated to the next California Secretary of State despite pushing for the position for years, with Governor Gavin Newsom instead choosing fellow San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber. A short time later during redistricting, it was decided that her district area, as well as that of Assemblywoman Akilah Weber (D-San Diego), would be put into the same district, bringing up a potential polarizing primary.

Luckily for Gonzalez, CLF Executive Secretary Art Pulaski announced he would be stepping down as leader after being at the helm since 1995. With Gonzalez’s labor background, she was selected to replace him in November 2021. Gonzalez subsequently resigned in January and since then had been getting up to speed on labor in California to ensure a smooth transition. That finally occurred on Wednesday.

Lorena Gonzalez sworn in

Her swearing in on Wednesday brought praise from many on the left in California, with the CLF tweeting out “Today, Lorena Gonzalez will be sworn in as our new Executive Secretary-Treasurer after 26 years with the fearless Art Pulaski’s retirement.”

Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) also added that “Congratulations to my former San Diego legislative colleague, Lorena Gonzalez, on her swearing in as Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the California Labor Federation! For years, Lorena has been a tireless advocate for workers & unions. This job is a natural next step for her to continue that work.”

In addition to her now leading the union, Gonzalez announced on Wednesday that the famed United Farm Workers (UFW) union, once one of the best known in the country due to the actions of former leaders Cesar Chavez and Delores Huerta, would be rejoining the CLF for the first time since 2006, when it left to try to go out on its own.

Others worried about Gonzalez being at the head of the CLF, warning that she might not be the best to lead the union group.

“While she does care about workers, Gonzalez’s problem has been that she seems to care more about driving up union membership rather than helping out workers,” Juan de la Torre, a former union organizer, told the Globe on Wednesday. “AB 5 was a huge blow to many workers who simply just wanted contractual work when you want hours to continue. She pulled the plug on them. And look what happened. So many workers revolted against it. Truckers shut down the port of Oakland for several days over it.”

“She doesn’t think long term, nor does she talk with the right people to see what the needs really are. And she is already consolidating power by getting the UFW back in. This is not going to be a good time for organized labor in California now. That’s for sure.”

“But Gonzalez’s arrival to the California Labor Federation isn’t the only news – she’s recruiting a new ally to the organization: the United Farm Workers. Walter Reuther would be spinning in his grave at this.”

Gonzalez’s first major actions as head of the CLF are expected to be seen later his year.

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One thought on “Former Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Sworn In As Head of California Labor Federation

  1. Calling Harmheet Dillon and her law firm : Can the citizens of California file a class-action lawsuit against this miserable cretin for conflict of interest and material damages resulting from her significant conflicts of that interest???

    The California Globe likes to publish articles outlining California legal statues… Why isn’t there one prohibiting elected officials from creating laws that benefit them directly when they jump ship to the private sector to PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY take advantage of the laws they just created…
    This is akin to Paul Pelosi’s insider trading off the pillow talk (shudder) that he has with his cretin…
    California is a swamp unto itself…

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