California Democrats, apparently obsessed with killing jobs when the state needs them most, are seeking an additional $20 million to enforce the AB5 law against so-called “gig” work.
AB5 and the spending increase are both opposed by the Black Small Business Association of California (BSBA), which “argues that the state’s costly plan to enforce AB5 would only exacerbate income inequality” in a letter sent last week to California’s Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom.
Another report says that “AB5 Leaves Women Business Owners Reeling.”
Passed last fall, AB5 “radically alters the definition of an ’employee so that independent Uber and Lyft drivers, as well as others who work in the gig economy, are brought to heel by limiting the amount of independent contract work a company can claim,” PJ Media’s Rick Moran wrote back in October.
As a result, musicians, writers, and other freelance creative workers have, by the thousands, found that their preferred ways of working have been effectively outlawed. Numerous festivals across the state have already been canceled.
Among those most impacted by AB5 are the kind of highly-paid urban-based independent consultants who typically vote for the Democrats who enacted and enforce it.
Whether they’ll start voting Republican and break the progressive Democrats’ stranglehold on the world’s fifth-largest economy remains to be seen, but not even Houdini would try holding his breath that long.
Now Democrats have found another $20 million in the state’s blown-out budget to enforce AB5. California faces a $54 billion shortfall in its estimated $222 billion budget, which is more than three times the size of the state’s rainy-day fund.
But back to AB5, which was written by the AFL-CIO in a cynical attempt to create more union members.
The law’s primary sponsor, Democratic Assemblycritter (and union tool) Lorena Gonzalez, continues to defend AB5, refusing to understand that the actual minimum for employee benefits is a big, fat zero.
The move comes at a time when the Democrat-dominated state government faces a huge deficit, and unemployment is among the worst in the nation at over 16%.
While most of the rest of the country enjoyed robust job growth in May, in California the jobless rate barely edged down to 16.3% from a 16.4% rate in April.
Job losses were huge everywhere in March and April as the economy was needlessly locked down to fight the Wuhan virus. But nationwide, “experts” were shocked when unemployment dropped last month to 13.3% from 14.7%.
California’s jobless rate isn’t just higher than the rest of the nation’s, but job recovery there basically stalled.
If there’s a plus side to AB5, it’s a very tiny one. The law has given rise to a small cottage industry for people giving advice on how to “hire a freelancer and not get sued.”
As PJ Media’s Tyler O’Neil noted in September of last year, AB5 “undermines the basic idea of the gig economy, by trying to pigeonhole flexible gig workers into the traditional employee mold.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told the Free Beacon on Sunday that “Gig economy workers have felt the ramifications of this legislation for months now, and the coronavirus pandemic has only made securing work that much more difficult.”
While President Donald Trump continues to push for job-friendly deregulation at the federal level, Gov. Newsom has dug in his heels on AB5. In April he boasted that “the state of California prides itself on being a national leader as it relates to protecting our workers from misclassification.”
But California’s higher-than-average unemployment rate and far lower-than-average recovery rate indicate that what Democrats are really protecting workers from is gainful employment.
What California workers and employers need more than ever right now is increased flexibility in order to reignite the state’s job-creation engine.
What they’re getting instead is another $20 million in debt so that unelected bureaucrats can wage war on the type of work preferred by nearly 25% of the workforce.
If out-of-work Californians need to give thanks for that, they need look no further than AB5.
One Last Thing: Alleged Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden endorsed AB5, and Nancy Pelosi’s Democrat-controlled House has literally copied and pasted the AFL-CIO’s language into HR 2474, which awaits Democrat control of the Senate and White House.
Author: Stephen Green