California’s Senate Republicans introduced a package of bills earlier in the year to fix and/or fully repeal Assembly Bill 5, the bill authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) which has limited Californians’ ability to work as independent contractors and freelancers. It was revealed during Senate debate in September that the AFL-CIO wrote AB 5.
Independent contractors are now forced to be employees and work specified shifts, focus on specified activities only, drive only for a single platform (e.g. Lyft, Uber, Doordash) and in a specific neighborhood, Senate Republicans explained.
Thousands of Jobs & Industries Impacted
Impacted industries include, among others: ridesharing, food delivery, design services, timber operations, single truck owner-operators, hospitality franchises (Pizza Hut, Marriott, KFC, IHOP, etc.), interpreting and translating services; physical, respiratory, massage, speech, occupational and other therapy industries; nonprofits, home repairs, catering and event planning, lab technology, nurse anesthetizing, optometry, social work, behavioral health, pet grooming, dog walking, pool cleaning, and many, many more.
AB 5 also randomly limited freelance writers and photographers to 35 submissions annually per media outlet. There have been numerous carve-outs for industries which agreed with Gonzalez to unionize.
Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) authored Senate Bill 806 to repeal and replace AB 5 with a new test which supports much more worker freedoms, and saves business-to-business relationships.
Grove’s bill was heard Thursday in the Senate Labor Committee, where despite her assurances that the bill will cover all workers, unlike those with carve outs, Democrats killed the bill.
“Carve outs don’t comply with the law,” Grove explained. “SB 806 will protect workers, freelancers and independent contractors and will not create confusion and carve-outs.”
In addition to being open to the public, the hearing was also a Zoom video conference where witnesses and members of the public could call in to support or oppose the bill. With only 10 minutes for the public to weigh in their support, 30 callers made their support official, with 14 left on hold when time ran out. Nearly all supporters were individuals who said they were independent contractors or gig workers: interpreters, construction workers, writers, professional musicians, Uber/Lyft/Doordash drivers, and the self-employed.
There were far fewer opposition callers with only 9, and were nearly all labor union representatives: UFCW, teamsters, machinists, CA Nurses Association, United Employees Union, CA Federation of Teachers and Consumer Attorneys.
Several supporters even snuck calls in, angry they had been cut off. “I am in support and you cut us off!” one caller said.
Perhaps the most egregious and condescending comments of the hearing came from Senator Hannah Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), who claimed that when people (independent contractors) say they’ve lost their jobs, they don’t really mean it – that’s it’s businesses which just don’t want to hire them properly.
Jackson, burnishing her credentials as a tone-deaf political elitist, said freelancers, gig workers and independent contractors are only angry about the job losses because the law is “taking away the lollipop they had to work when they want.”
“Employers have every ability to hire these employees,” Jackson added.
Committee Chairman Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) commended Grove for her bill, but said “I can’t support this bill – I don’t think this is the way to do it.”
SB 806 received 4 NO votes from committee Democrats, and 1 AYE vote from Republican Sen. Mike Morrell.
Language from SB 806: The bill would, instead, establish a new test that, for purposes of specific provisions of the Labor Code governing the relationship of employer and employees, a person providing labor or services for remuneration is considered an employee rather than an independent contractor, unless the hiring entity demonstrates that the person is (1) free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact, determined by a preponderance of factors, with no single factor of control being determinative, and either that (2) the person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business, or the work performed is outside the place of business of the hiring entity, or the worker is responsible for the costs of the place of the business where the work is performed, or that (3) the person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.
- SB 806 (Grove): Repeal & Replace AB 5
- SB 867 (Bates): Protect Newspaper Carriers and Distributors
- SB 868 (Bates): Protect Freelance Journalists
- SB 875 (Grove/Jones): Exempt Interpreters/Translators
- SB 881 (Jones): Exempt Musicians and Music Industry Professionals
- SB 963 (Morrell): Protect Independent Umpires and Referees
- SB 965 (Nielsen): Exempt Healthcare Facilities
- SB 966 (Nielsen): Exempt Licensed Pharmacists
- SB 967 (Borgeas): Protect Franchisors and Franchisees
- SB 975 (Dahle): Assist Timber Industry
- SB 990 (Moorlach): Protect APP-based drivers