Two California politicians and thousands of Californians who are independent contractors, gig economy workers, and freelancers, are calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to use his Emergency Powers to suspend Assembly Bill 5’s restrictions on independent contracting during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Every day we wait to take action, more Californians are losing their livelihoods as the result of AB 5,” Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) says. Kiley has been sending letters to Gov. Newsom to suspend AB 5 for myriad reasons.
Former California Congressman Doug Ose, Chairman of Rebuild California Foundation, also sent a letter to the governor and said “if AB 5 is not immediately suspended then the consequences of the coronavirus collapse will be magnified. Your action now to suspend AB5 will provide relief to over one million Californians.”
Both Kiley and Ose are calling for Gov. Gavin Newsom to suspend AB 5, or at minimum, allow a grace period to study the impacts of the legislation before it is fully enacted.
“AB 5, in its current form, is causing chaos,” Kiley explained to California Globe. “Even lawyers can’t make heads or tails of it. And everyone, including the author, says major changes are coming. Why on earth would we not allow a brief Grace Period until these changes take effect next year?”
Since January 1, Assembly Bill 5 by former labor leader Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), has already significantly limited Californians’ ability to work as independent contractors and freelancers. The California Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that AB 5 has already affected more than 1 million independent contractor and freelance working Californians, and the growing list of 300+ industries impacted by the new law.
It was revealed during Senate debate in September that the AFL-CIO wrote AB 5.
There are multiple reasons to suspend AB 5 during the coronavirus crisis including:
Assemblyman Kiley sent a letter to Governor Newsom laying out the legal authority, under the California Emergency Services Act, for the Governor to suspend the recently enacted law in order to allow more Californians to work remotely and to enable greater provision of care by a host of healthcare professions.
“The Governor has shown strong leadership in confronting an unprecedented crisis, making hard but necessary decisions,” Kiley said. “Suspending AB 5 is one easy thing he could do that would make a big difference.”
“At a time when most Californians can’t work outside the home, AB 5 is stopping many of them from working inside the home.”
Ose is also concerned about the impact on medical professionals in rural areas. “We are all aware of the significant challenge facing us dealing with coronavirus,” Ose said. “Those challenges are particularly acute in rural California, where hospitals and clinics don’t have sufficient patient loads to support full time positions in a number of physician and nursing specialties. In the past, such needs have been met by contracting with independent contractors to provide services. That approach is problematic now that AB 5 has become law.”
Rural California Assembly Districts are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of AB 5 during the coronavirus scare, largely because they already do not have enough doctors, nurses or even hospitals.
Some of these rural areas include:
- California’s 13th State Assembly district in Western San Joaquin, represented by Assemblywoman Susan Eggman (D-Stockton);
- California’s 56th State Assembly district, represented by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), is primarily rural and encompasses the Imperial Valley and parts of the Coachella Valley and Colorado Desert;
- California’s 21st State Assembly district, in the heart of the Central Valley is represented by Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced);
- California’s 30th State Assembly district, is centered on the Pajaro Valley and Salinas Valley, major agricultural areas, is represented by Assemblyman Robert Rivas (D-Hollister).
- California’s 32nd State Assembly district is located in the southwestern Central Valley, is mainly agricultural, is currently represented by Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield).
“We recommend that, at a minimum, you immediately waive the application of AB5 at rural hospitals and medical clinics using your emergency powers,” Ose said in his letter. “This will allow administrators to provide medical care with trained personnel who are independent contractors, just as they were previously able to do prior to the adoption and implementation of AB5.”
“You were correct in saying the coronavirus situation is an ‘All hands on deck’ challenge,” Ose said. “You would greatly amplify the ability of rural hospitals to meet the coming tsunami by waiving the application of AB5 at hospitals and clinics in rural California. Being able to treat rural California residents at rural hospitals and clinics would significantly reduce the demand for beds in urban hospitals and clinics because patients would not have to be transported thereto.”
“We urge your immediate attention to this proposal,” Ose said. “It is the right thing to do.”
Kiley’s Assembly Bill 1928 is an urgency measure to repeal AB 5 and would return the legal standard for independent contracting to what it was for decades before AB 5 and the Dynamex decision. A recent vote in the California Assembly to suspend AB 5 while corrective legislation is under consideration was killed by Assembly Democrats. Kiley proposed the Legislature suspend those recent changes pending further legislative consideration. Kiley will continue to move forward AB 1928, and he said he still believes repealing AB 5 is the best solution.
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