First the Sacramento Bee lectured Republican Congressman Kevin Kiley CA-03) telling him how he is supposed to do his new job in Congress, the Globe reported in late January.
Now the Sacramento Bee is going after Rep. Kiley for his prescient warnings about nationalizing the disastrous California Assembly Bill 5, which banned independent “gig” work of any kind in California in 2019.
A gig economy is a free market system in which freelance, temporary and flexible job positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements. In 2018, prior to passage of AB 5, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.that 55 million people in the U.S. are “gig workers,” which is more than 35 percent of the U.S. workforce. That number was projected to jump to 43 percent by 2020, Forbes
Assembly Bill 5 by former labor leader and now former Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) who is once again working as a labor leader, significantly limited Californians’ ability to work as independent contractors and freelancers. It was revealed during Senate debate that the AFL-CIO wrote AB 5.
Freelance journalists, photographers, screenwriters, musicians, dancers, composers, actors, traveling medical professionals in rural areas, truckers, multi-language court interpreters, conference interpreters, translators, and many more independent contractors lost their ability to work for themselves.
AB 5 randomly limited freelance writers and photographers to only 35 submissions annually per media outlet. That caused such an uproar in the media, so Gonzalez authored AB 1850, to exempt freelance and independent contractor writers and photographers and remove the controversial 35 content submissions a year’ rule, California Globe reported.
Assemblywoman Gonzalez and other lawmakers had been considering such changes before AB 5 was even law, but went with it anyway.
“These were never good jobs,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said in December on Twitter, referring to freelance journalists, as justification for AB 5. Gonzalez received so much flak for her offensive tweet, she removed it.
“After truckers were found to be exempt by California courts in early January, journalists introduced more tactics for an AB 5 overturn. While their lawsuit was denied by a judge, a looming hearing on the request in March as well as a ballot measure overturning AB 5 and a Senate Bill that would overturn AB 5 known as SB 868 becoming active a few weeks ago have kept pressure on lawmakers to grant freelance journalists an exception,” the Globe reported.
Assemblywoman Gonzalez’s corrective legislation, AB 1850, was not the only bill addressing the harm caused by AB 5. The Legislature considered 30+ bills changing or removing aspects of the law.
Fast forward to 2023, three years after AB 5 was made law by Gov. Newsom. The Sacramento Bee’s one-sided article followed Rep. Kiley’s Feb. 9, 2023 floor speech on AB5 about the necessity of protecting independent contractors by blocking the Pro-Act in the subcommittee he chairs – Workforce Protections.
Kiley warned that AB 5 bans independent work of any kind, and disallows being your own boss in Calilfornia. Kiley called it “a grave threat to American workers that is coming from Washington, D.C., right now.”
“Hundreds of thousands of Americans are at risk of losing their livelihoods right now because of an anti-worker agenda certain politicians and special interests are pushing by any means necessary,” Kiley said.
He said there is hardly an industry or trade that goes unscathed.
In January 2020, Kiley and many other lawmakers held a rally to Repeal AB 5 at the State Capitol. Hundreds of independent contractors and freelance workers attended the rally.
Kiley announced that in February 2020 he would initiate a Floor Vote on Assembly Bill 1928, an urgency measure to suspend AB 5 while corrective legislation is under consideration.
“AB 5 is destroying lives every day,” Kiley said. “We cannot wait any longer to stop the bleeding.”
The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated in 2020 that AB 5 had already affected more than 1 million independent contractor and freelance working Californians.
Assemblyman Kiley compiled a book of AB 5 stories of independent contractors who lost their jobs because of the poorly crafted bill.
— Kevin Kiley (@KevinKileyCA) January 27, 2020
“When you take your God-given talents, nurture them with heart and soul, and offer them to the world, that’s not exploitation. That’s self-actualization,” Kiley told the rally attended to cheers.
On the floor of the House earlier this month, Kiley warned that Congress might nationalize California’s AB 5. “With a single stroke of his pen, Governor Gavin Newsom rendered countless Californians, spanning hundreds of professions, unable to earn a living in our state,” Kiley said.
The Sacramento Bee took exception with Kiley’s characterization of independent contractors from most industries losing their ability to work in California.
“There’s no independent data to support Kiley’s claim that California Assembly Bill 5 impoverished large segments of workers,” the Bee reported. “However, experts say the law could have a significant, still unknown impact on state workers. It’s just difficult to say at this point because the law is too new to reliably evaluate.”
That’s incorrect. Independent contractors were losing their jobs immediately after AB 5 was passed and signed into law in September 2019. Independent contractors who worked with other states reported almost immediately they were let go because of California’s new law. And the bloodletting continued.
As Globe contributor Edward Ring reported, “The reason AB 5 passed is because it will make it easier for labor unions to organize workers in a host of industries.”
Ring noted, in a guest editorial for the Sacramento Bee Labor Day September 2019, Gov. Newsom had this to say:
“This Labor Day, I am proud to be supporting Assembly Bill 5, which extends critical labor protections to more workers by curbing misclassification. While this step is important, we must do more to reverse the 40-year trends that have hollowed out our middle class and driven income inequality. We can do this by partnering with labor and supporting their efforts to create ways for workers to join together and speak with one voice. Across the country, unions are paving the path for new ways to organize – whether it’s the fight for a federal $15 minimum wage, organizing freelancers and contractors, or bargaining project labor agreements.”
“Partnering with labor.” “Paving the path for new ways to organize.”
So what is the Sacramento Bee’s real objection with Rep. Kevin Kiley warning about nationalizing AB 5?
“Kiley is now in a position to keep a harsh spotlight on his view that the fallout from the California law threatens to have a dire impact on the right of freelancers and independent contractors to make a living,” the Bee said. “He has been named chairman of the House’s workplace protection subcommittee, the first stop for legislation that would impact worker rights and policy.”
The Bee objects that the very astute and resolute Kiley is leading the one committee that spotlights labor in the workplace.
So they turned to a labor favorite, Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, for comment:
“It’s a lot of noise,” said Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, head of the California Labor Federation. “Kiley is so out of touch with working people.” Chairing the House subcommittee, she said, “is going to make very little difference.”
As astute and resolute as Rep. Kiley is, Gonzalez is audacious and profane. And can be foul-mouthed as well (Remember her “f–k Elon Musk” Tweet when he threatened to pull Tesla out of California during Gov. Newsom’s Covid business shutdowns and lockdowns?)
Musk’s reply was eloquent:
The Sacramento Bee correctly says, “The clash is a classic labor vs. business battle.” But they make a forced error when they offer, “Labor advocates believe that freelancers, independent contractors and others without traditional, salaried workplaces should get the same rights as others.”
Oh, Right. Labor wants to take care of poor little freelancers and give them rights… it’s not at all about adding hundreds of thousands of dues-paying members.
What about the right to work? What about the right to be your own boss?
Stay tuned for Rep. Kevin Kiley’s ongoing battle with the vituperative Lorena Gonzalez.
Enjoy his floor speech here:
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