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Special Interest Surge

Lorena Gonzalez and AB 5 do not support ‘labor’ or ‘the workers’

By Lloyd Billingsley, January 30, 2020 4:11 pm

Woman at Repeal AB5 rally with her sign. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

California taxpayers do not vote for union bosses, who represent only their members, a small minority of California’s workers.


San Diego Democrat Lorena Gonzalez is the official figurehead for Assembly Bill 5, in large part a creation of the AFL-CIO. The description of Gonzalez as a former “labor organizer” is also misleading.

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, 85.3 percent of California’s wage and salaried workers, the vast majority, are not union members. By the latest figures, union members comprise only 14.7 percent of the workforce in California.

Nationally, according to the BLS, unions account for only 10.5 percent of wage and salaried worker, a small minority. On the other hand, a full 89.5 percent of American workers, the vast majority, are not union members.

By those numbers, unions do not represent “labor” or “the workers” in any meaningful sense, but the establishment media routinely equate labor with unions. The same pattern emerged last October in Gabrielle Canon’s profile of Lorena Gonzalez in USA Today.

Her bills often start conversations in other states and set the bar for progressive policies around the country,” Canon wrote, “especially when it comes to workers’ rights.” Gonzalez had championed a $15 minimum wage and “authored new protections for an array of workers, including nail salon employees and NFL cheerleaders.”

In Canon’s account, Gonzalez was introduced to the “labor movement” through San Diego “labor leader”  Jerry Butkiewicz. He built up the local AFL-CIO chapter, “and Gonzalez would later follow in his footsteps.”

Butkiewicz stepped down in 2007, and as Evan McLaughlin reported in Voice of San Diego, the AFL-CIO boss “is recommending Lorena Gonzalez, who has served as the labor council’s political director for the past year, as his successor.” Gonzalez had been a city council candidate in San Diego and a former aide to Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante.

On Butkiewicz’s watch, McLaughlin noted, unions’ political influence left the city with pension debt of $1 billion. Teacher unions criticized the education reforms of superintendent Alan Bersin. Labor costs killed off a resort project, and some unions called for a boycott of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Government pension debt has soared in Sacramento, where the California Teachers Association wields enormous influence. In similar style, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) proclaims “This is our house!” outside the State Capitol.

That might come as a surprise to California taxpayers, who do not vote for union bosses. They represent only their members, a small minority of California’s workers. Assembly Bill 5 backs the state’s most powerful special interest group and opposes the vast majority of California’s independent workers and freelance writers in particular.

Freelance writers, and the independent publications and websites they serve, are the primary target of AB 5. That is why the measure limits freelance writers to 35 submissions a year, less than one a week. As the writers might have noticed, the measure does not limit independent electricians to 35 jobs per years, plumbers to 35 repairs a year, or limit gardeners to cleaning 35 yards per year.

On Tuesday, independent workers, writers prominent among them, gathered at the California state capitol to protest AB 5, as California Globe was there and reported. Public protest is a tradition in California, home of the Free Speech Movement, but the protest drew no coverage from the Sacramento Bee.

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3 thoughts on “Special Interest Surge

  1. Something needs to be done regarding the huge influence the public employee unions hold over our state legislature.

    1. Especially when they are such a small percentage (14.7%) of the total CA workforce, as was pointed out in the article.

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