Disastrous AB5 and Its Job-Killing Ways
Lyft and Uber drivers in California can breathe a brief sigh of relief.
AB5, the California labor law that wages war on freelancers while masquerading as protection for workers, almost forced ride-share company Lyft to suspend operations starting Friday.
Uber Technologies Inc (UBER.N) and Lyft Inc (LYFT.O) are preparing to suspend ride-hailing services in California, barring an appeals court ruling overturning an order to treat their drivers as employees and not independent contractors.
Lyft in a blog post on Thursday said it would suspend its California operations at midnight. (lft.to/31eQRur)
Uber, in a separate blog post on Tuesday, said it would have to temporarily shut down unless the appeals court intervenes. The company did not respond to requests for comment Thursday on whether it would also shut down at midnight.
An appellate court staved this off, but it’s a temporary band-aid on a hemorrhaging wound.
CNN (emphasis added):
Uber () and Lyft ( ) narrowly avoided shutting down their ride-hailing services in California after an appellate court granted the companies a temporary reprieve delaying an order that would have forced them to reclassify their drivers in the state by Friday.
While the legal decision on Thursday buys the companies more time, they still do have a deadline hanging over their heads to reclassify their drivers as employees rather than independent contractors.
AB5 was introduced as a bill by California assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a former AFL-CIO professional labor organizer. In her telling, the law protects workers. In reality, it forces them to be reclassified as employees so that unions can organize them.
California is not a right-to-work state and its legislature is firmly in the grip of powerful and wealthy Big Labor lobbies.
The Big Labor intentions of AB5 are so transparent a fifth-grader could figure them out. Not surprisingly, Gonzalez continues to function more like a union flack than someone who represents a constituency.
AB5 Affects More Than Just Lyft and Uber
The ride-sharing biggies seem to have been the original target for Gonzalez the Job Slayer. AB5’s death-grip fingers reach far beyond them, sadly.
As I’ve written several times, the Los Angeles-based entertainment industry is largely a gig contract, freelance affair. I was a 1099 worker almost the entire quarter of a century that I lived there, and have been for most of my adult life. Almost every writer, comic, and TV/film industry friend I have there is a 1099 gig worker.
Had I remained in California, AB5 would have been what finally made me leave.
Many of my friends who can’t leave yet are being forced to incorporate which — SURPRISE! — is a lot more expensive in California.
This law is so onerous that it is doing the seemingly impossible during these tumultuous political times: bringing people from the Right and Left together to oppose it.
Independent contractors are entering new territory. Suddenly, a more conservative approach seems more attractive. “My entire political mindset has changed drastically following the enactment of AB5,” says Cathy Hertz, a freelance copyeditor of STM (science-technology-medicine) books, from Loma Linda. Hertz campaigned for Barack Obama cross-country at her own expense in 2008; she campaigned for him locally, in Los Angeles, in 2012. “Now I feel that the rights of entrepreneurs are being stifled, trampled upon, violated,” she says. “Free enterprise is one of the main pillars of modern democracy.”
That may be just one story but I’ve read and heard countless more. Many of the California friends I mentioned are on the front lines of the organized opposition to AB5. I’ve heard plenty of “politics makes strange bedfellows” stories.
Joe Biden Is a Big AB5 Fan
California is run by Big Labor because California is run by Democrats. Democrats at all levels have to bend the knee to the unions, and Joe Biden isn’t exempted.
I wrote in June about Biden’s ever-leftward bent, highlighting his proud support of AB5:
I support #AB5 in California, which will give workers the dignity they deserve in the workplace. I agree with @transportworker that we can't let corporations undermine basic rights by adding these exemptions to ground-breaking legislation. https://t.co/bouzgRLBU7
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) March 7, 2020
His social media handler was obviously using a union script for that tweet.
This is a golden opportunity for the Trump campaign to hammer home the fact that Biden is gleefully willing to kill jobs for political purposes during this pandemic-induced economic horror.
The Big Labor spin is that gig workers are poor, put-upon victims of corporations.
Poppycock (I’ve always wanted to respond to something with that word).
Again, I’ve been a 1099 worker forever. The majority of those of us who live and work this way do it by choice. We forego the corporate perks to have more freedom and flexibility in our lives. We’re not under anyone’s thumb.
Getting us under a huge thumb is what AB5 is all about.
No thanks, I’m good.
PJ Media Senior Columnist and Associate Editor Stephen Kruiser is the author of “Don’t Let the Hippies Shower” and “Straight Outta Feelings: Political Zen in the Age of Outrage,” both of which address serious subjects in a humorous way. Monday through Friday he edits PJ Media’s “Morning Briefing.” His columns appear twice a week.