“I signed the bill, write the [BLEEP] column!”
The above quote of California Governor Gavin Newsom (D, San Francisco) was shared by the recipient of the text message containing the uncensored version of the quote, who shared it with POLITICO last week about a bill that had just passed the California legislature at the end of August, and the governor was urged to sign the bill immediately.
Why? Well, this exchange is appropriate to share and publish on Labor Day, the traditional kickoff of the fall campaign and the unofficial end to a summer of 2020 we will not soon forget. Because it’s an accurate take of where Workers Rights are going, and the biggest threat to Workers Rights in 2020 America heading into the 2020 Elections? Yes, Labor Unions and Big Labor Union bosses.
The recipient of Governor Newsom’s text last week was Willie Brown, the larger-than-life former mayor of San Francisco and prior to being term limited out of Sacramento, the Assembly (House) Speaker of the California Assembly for 15 years after 30 years in the state capitol. Indeed, the 1990 voter approval of term limits (back when California was a 2-party state), was in large part to Brown.
It’s no secret, this is the man who gave Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris her start in politics, both professionally and personally. He also groomed Gavin Newsom to succeed him as mayor, which he did in 2004 after serving two terms.
An Illinois equivalent would be Mike Madigan, had he been term-limited out of Springfield say, in 2010, and ran for Chicago mayor and served two or three terms. At 86, Brown still wields considerable clout and influence in California politics to receive texts from the California governor 16 years after leaving elective public office.
So what was the bill Brown wanted signed, and more importantly, why?
It was a bill to amend portions of the highly controversial Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) the California legislature passed a year ago and took affect at the first of the year.
AB5 was the bill, backed by Big Labor that would force independent contractors to become employees by broadly expanding the worker classification test utilizing the “ABC” test to classify a worker as an employee, or as a contractor.
Originally pushed by Big Labor to stifle the growth of the gig economy, particularly Uber and Lyft drivers and bring them into employment and possibly organizing drivers into union locals, the consequences of AB5 impacted not only gig workers, but all independent contractors and freelancers, including freelance writers.
Last month, after an unsuccessful court challenge to AB5, Uber and Lyft threatened to move out of California, and was only stopped by a last minute 90-day injunction was granted, until after the November election due to an initiative on the ballot.
This fall, California voters will decide on a partial repeal of AB5 in one of several voter initiatives on the fall ballot — Proposition 22, which applies only to Uber/Lyft, but will have impacts to DoorDash and other app-based drivers.
Brown was getting hurt by AB5. Since leaving public office, Brown has been writing a weekly column on the Sunday opinion page of the San Francisco Chronicle and is not employed by the flagship of the newspapers started by the legendary William Hearst back in Victorian times in San Francisco. He wrote his columns and was compensated as a freelance writer.
To comply with the AB5 law, newspapers/publications in California were mandated by the government to limit the submission of articles by freelance writers to 35/year per writer. Brown hit his 35 column limit on August 30 (35th Sunday of 2020), and the only way for Brown to continue writing his column was for California legislators to pass an amendment to AB5 raising the 35/year writers limits.
This was the bill Newsom said he signed, AB2257, which was touted as a “clean-up” bill for AB5 and lifted the submission cap of 35/year, and other modest adjustments to freelancers in other professions.
Proponents of the Repeal AB5 movement, who are mostly in favor of Prop 22, say the AB2257 adjustments are not enough, and nothing short of a full repeal is in order.
How does this California episode impact the rest of the country? The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act passed by House Democrats earlier this year in Congress is the federal version of AB5. As documented at the end of June on McHenry County Blog, Joe Biden wants to make the PRO Act the law of the land.
The PRO Act, H.R. 2474, made Congressman Dan Crenshaw’s (R, TX-02) Top 10 list of radical Democrat policies passed in the House in this Congress.
And McHenry County’s congressional representatives Sean Casten and Lauren Underwood, voted for the PRO Act this past February in another example of hyper-partisan legislation of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 116th Congress.
It is estimated 2 million workers (gig workers, independent contractors and freelancers) were impacted by California’s AB5, and as it turns out, until last week, Willie Brown was one of them.
In the same POLITICO article, Brown went on to say the following, confirming the threat of Big Labor Union bosses to Workers Rights:
“If there was a place to picket organized labor, I’d do it today.
“If there was a place to picket a legislator, I’d do it.
“I made sure that special interests, no matter who they were — labor or non labor — did not take advantage of the Legislature.”
“Those bastards!”Willie Brown, POLITICO 9/4/20
In closing, sharing a heartfelt Twitter testimonial shared yesterday by RedState Jennifer Van Laar, who became known around the country when she broke the scandal of Katie Hill that within a month led to her resignation from Congress.
Van Laar singles out the author of AB5, Assemblywoman Lorena S. Gonzalez-Fletcher, who represents a San Diego area district and has statewide office ambitions for 2022.
Her tweet thread was in response to a Gonzalez tweet thread where the assemblywoman was touting AB5 is now completely fixed with the implementation of AB2257.
The tweets from Van Laar have been transcribed for ease of reading.
“Who represents the single mom who receives ZERO child support and is the only adult family member around for her learning-disabled son? It’s sure as hell not you [Gonzalez], and you don’t give a shit about the moms who used gig work so they could be there for kids with IEP’s.
“I learned AB5 would result in the loss of my primary freelance contract around 4 PM Fri 12/27/19, when I was in NC driving from my mom’s house to my middle son’s wedding reception.
“No time to strategize. So I decided I’d move to NC while my youngest finished his 11th grade yr then we’d re-evaluate, hoping there’d be a repeal or something. I spent most of Jan & Feb and part of Mar back east but came to CA for 2 wks after CPAC and got corona quarantine. Then, I found out on Easter that I was gonna be a grandma!
“I decided to find a way to stay here and work after I could travel freely again so I could be close to my grandchild.
“Then on 5/5/20 my daughter-in-law miscarried, forced to learn the sad news alone because coronavirus restrictions wouldn’t let my son attend her OB appts.
“It’s not easy, but I’m with my family and my youngest son’s distance learning partner as he starts his senior year. Since he has an IEP and is unable to receive the therapies and transition services he’s federally entitled to b/c of distance learning my place is here.
“But until Friday I had zero freedom to pursue my freelance writing career or support my family b/c Lorena Gonzalez has refused to listen to my voice or many others.
“I was specifically targeted in a CNET article and falsely accused of being paid by Uber & Lyft to oppose AB5 and support Prop 22 by Lorena and [California-Berkley Law professor, who helped write AB5]Veena Dubal, when I haven’t written one piece cheerleading Prop 22 and only started writing about AB5 when it personally affected me.
“I explained in tweet threads and articles how heartbreaking it was for my son to see me leaving yet again when he needed me there, and there was no logical reason for me to have to leave.
“I did nothing wrong; just woke up one day to find that Lorena Gonzalez, the Teamsters, SEIU, Veena Dubal, and their entire group simply decided my job and my son’s childhood was an acceptable loss to forward their authoritarian goals.
“What was the response? Either silence, or a tweet snarkily asking if I was the reporter who broke the story about Katie Hill – a way for Gonzalez to try to aim troll armies at me. (Ironic, no?)
“So don’t come at me with this ‘I’m for working moms’ thing. Unlike you, I didn’t receive a bunch of child support or a car or a house from my kids’ dad. I left a man I had supported financially for years and got out with my freedom, my children, and what fit in the back of my Ford Flex when I drove home.
“And I thrived. AB5 set me back, but I’ll thrive again.”Jennifer Van Laar tweet thread 9/6/20 in response to Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher
Next article on Workers Rights and its importance in the 2020 elections, a proven civil rights leader, Dr. Benjamin Chavis a leader among black-owned newspaper associations and former NAACP executive director called AB5 racist, and he is not the only member of the black community saying this.
And if that is thought about AB5, then it applies to the PRO Act, too.