This week I joined my colleagues to address a large crowd gathered on the Capitol steps to protest Assembly Bill 5, one of the most devastating pieces of legislation in California’s recent history. This ill-conceived attempt to deal with the problem of employee misclassification has jeopardized the livelihood and security of thousands.
My office has received hundreds of phone calls, emails and letters opposing AB 5 from a broad cross section of workers, including Uber and Lyft drivers, newspaper publishers, freelancers, interpreters, artists, musicians, and even local community groups like Fallbrook Arts, Inc. Small businesses, like mine, now cannot contract out for services and bring in workers as job needs require. People needing flexible work schedules such as working moms, families with special needs children, those caring for elderly parents and many more have seen their incomes, their way of life, their families’ very security upended and threatened by AB 5.
Despite a massive outpouring of criticism, AB 5 was pushed through last year with little consideration about its economic impact. Many exemptions, mostly for powerful and well-connected interest groups were included in the bill, but they are complicated, vague and often unusable. Governor Newsom has indicated some interest to making changes. My legislative colleagues and I are eager to help, and we are already introducing legislation, including the complete repeal of AB 5.
Abuses of contract employees should be addressed, and laws to prevent misclassification of workers must be vigorously enforced. However, AB 5 limits freedom by preventing people from finding work schedules that fit their lives. It attempts to rig our economy with a one-size-fits-all solution that is unworkable in a state with 40 million people. We need a system of labor laws that work for all, not just the select, well-connected few.