Since last fall, PJ Media has been chronicling the U.S. supply chain crisis at our nation’s ports, railroads, highways, airports, and supermarket shelves. Over the intervening months, no amount of presidential or gubernatorial bloviating, phot-op visits, or misguided fines has truly fixed the congested conditions to get the supply chain back on track. And this month, a 2019 Democratic law is set to go into effect which will add even more stress to the already broken system.
Yes, in their oh-so-vast wisdom, California Democrats passed Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) to force perfectly content freelancers and independent contractors (also known as “gig workers”) to be reclassified as employees. Like most leftist regulations, AB5’s initial intentions were one thing (“to protect all the poor mistreated gig workers” who didn’t actually need or want protection) while its real-world outcomes are something thoroughly different (forcing employers to replace gig workers and decimating the industries that rely on them).
Touted as the leftist cure to save gig workers from exploitation, in reality, AB5 is simply a job- and freedom-killing monstrosity. AB5 limits the freedom of California’s workers to be independent contractors. Instead, it forces them to be considered salaried employees, which means the employers are also forced to place them under the existing laws for health insurance, retirement, and a myriad of other regulations concerning full-time employees. While AB5 does exempt some specific occupations from its onerous regulations, the state’s over 70,000 independent truckers were not explicitly among those exemptions in the original bill.
These exempt occupations would include, among others, licensed insurance agents, certain licensed health care professionals, registered securities broker-dealers or investment advisers, direct sales salespersons, real estate licensees, commercial fishermen, workers providing licensed barber or cosmetology services, and others performing work under a contract for professional services, with another business entity, or pursuant to a subcontract in the construction industry.
This led the California Trucking Association to take the exemption fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Unfortunately, on June 30, the Supreme Court declined to hear the petition. Now, AB5 forces the state’s more than 70,000 independent truckers to decide if they will lose their freedom by becoming an employee, forever park their rigs, or flee the once-Golden State for other gig-friendly states. Some “protection,” huh?
On cue, power-hungry California bureaucrats called for truckers to snitch on their employers. “Drivers, if you believe that you and other colleagues at the same trucking company are being misclassified as independent contractors,” tweets CA’s leftist Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower, “you can file a report of labor law violations and request an investigation from our office.” Yeah, that’ll help the supply chain crisis and the economy alright.
— CA_Labor_Commissioner (@CA_LaborCommish) July 12, 2022
Not ones to take losing their freedoms lightly, according to Fox11, a large “group of truckers protesting a state law limiting the use of independent-contractor drivers held a convoy protest through the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex Wednesday, snarling some traffic in the area.”
“At this point there is no disruption of terminal activity,” according to a statement from the Port of Los Angeles. “Los Angeles Port Police will assist in making sure all parties are able to express their First Amendment rights while also making sure the port continues to operate safely and commerce continues to flow.”
The executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, Gene Seroka, told Fox11 “the port had planned ahead” for the convoy protest because it is believed to be part of “an anticipated 24-hour work stoppage” in protest of AB5.
“These drivers have a view to put out there,” Seroka said in a news conference. “We planned for this days ahead to make sure that these protests were peaceful, organized. We gave them the depth, the breadth, the space they needed to voice their opinion, but kept this cargo moving through the port complex. And these drivers are very respectful to just that. I applaud them for coming out here today.”
While the supply chain crisis and the placation of the California protestors continue, for now, remember the Democratic Party ultimately intends to take AB5 national, so be on the lookout for more freedom-damaging bills just like it coming soon near you.