With black leaders opposing the California AB5 at the heart of the PRO Act, and labeling the law as “racist”, have Lauren Underwood and Sean Casten supported racist legislation?
INTRODUCTION: The issue of Workers Rights and the California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) law is the most vivid example of a Democrat supermajority in California government passing far left legislation and having significant negative impacts on its residents to the point that a significant number of self-described lifetime Democrats will be voting for Republicans including President Trump this fall in the Golden State.
California passed the AB5 worker classification law in 2019 and at the heart was the implementation of the Depression-era “ABC test” to classify workers as an “employee”.
The ABC test, originally established for factory workers which favors labor unions was included in AB5 and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom last year, the AB5 law went into effect at the first of 2020.
At the heart of opponents argument against AB5 is the use of the ABC test for employment, instead of the more modern and flexible IRS test, a 9-12 step test used in most professions for worker classification.
The Green New Deal and single-payer Medicare-for-All gets the headlines, but AB5 in a big state like California and its devastating impacts on the California residents has already been passed in the U.S. House under H.R. 2474, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, and it is hoped voters discuss this legislation in the congressional elections before all the ballots are cast by November 3.
This article will examine why civil rights leaders and organizations have branded AB5 “racist”, which means the PRO Act as passed in the House in February is racist, too.
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
Late last month, an opinion piece was published in multiple online publications, including the Los Angeles Sentinel from Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
Dr. Chavis is a hero’s hero of the civil rights movement who was an assistant to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the executive director of the NAACP in the 1990s and currently is the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the nation’s oldest and largest trade association of black-owned newspapers and media companies.
Dr. Chavis’ opinion piece, “Black Riders Matter”, discusses the California AB5 law, and the upcoming ballot initiative in the fall, Proposition 22 which is a partial repeal of AB5.
Dr. Chavis states:
“In the tradition of African American business development, many independent contractors in our communities subsequently become the proprietors of their own businesses.
“The point here is that today, across the state of California (and for seemingly counterproductive reasons), public policies, laws and regulations are being passed to prevent companies such as Lyft and Uber from having independent contractors drive and conduct related business across the state.
“This is another glaring example of good intentions causing bad consequences, specifically for Black Americans, Latinx Americans and other people of color who are trying to work as independent contractors on a legitimate path to becoming sustainable and profitable entrepreneurs.
“Systemic racism in America today has many varied and debilitating manifestations that keep a knee on the necks of people of color striving to achieve success, empowerment and lift themselves out of poverty. In my view, the…California law, Assembly Bill 5, is unconstitutional and racist. Other states should become aware and alarmed by these non-progressive and regressive regulations.Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. published in Los Angeles Sentinel 8/27/20
Dr. Chavis is one man, and one person’s opinion does not a trend make, though the words “unconstitutional” and “racist” in his assessment of AB5 stand out.
Edwin A. Lombard III
Back in early June, Edwin A. Lombard III, the president and CEO of the California Black Chamber of Commerce weighed in on AB5:
“Black lives, Black families and Black businesses have been devastated by the triple catastrophes of AB5, COVID-19, and the violent racism that permeates the very institutions we rely on to protect our freedom as Americans.
“How dare you use the shooting of civilians by police as a political weapon to defend your misguided and disastrous law that has robbed thousands of Californians of their right to earn a living with dignity, respect, and independence.
“The Black men and women who have chosen to work for themselves are not asking for your “protection” from self-employment. We are not asking for your permission to earn a living as we choose, by starting a business for ourselves or control our own future as an independent contractor.
“We’re tired of paternalistic institutions that purport to ‘protect’ us while enabling, defending, and propagating the systemic racism that has cost so many Black lives.”Statement from Edwin A. Lombard III published in Business Wire 6/9/20
Mr. Lombard’s blistering statement was directed at California Assemblywoman Lorena S. Gonzalez-Fletcher (D, San Diego), who sponsored AB5 in Sacramento.
Mr. Lombard further points out that up to 1 million Californians in the gig economy could eventually be affected by AB5, and that does not count all independent contractors or freelancers in multiple professions.
Good example of unintended consequences in the COVID-19 issues of education of children in online learning environments. Parents may want to hire a tutor to replace the loss of teacher-child interaction due to COVID restrictions, especially if their child is struggling. AB5 impacts private tutors who work as independent contractors directly with their students’ parents.
California Civil Rights Organizations Back Proposition 22
OK, two black leaders have publicly called out AB5 as “racist”. In late July, several civil rights organizations came out in favor of Proposition 22, the partial AB5 repeal:
So among the organizations listed with officials signing this letter to state and congressional legislators from late July include:
- California State NAACP
- Si Se Puede Foundation
- Black Women Organized for Political Action
- California Black Chamber of Commerce
- Love Lifts All
- National Action Network
The president of the California Chapter the NAACP, Alice Huffman, released an opinion piece this past Tuesday, after the AB5 “fix” bill, AB2257 was passed last week and signed into law by Governor Newsom on Friday, September 4.
McHenry County Blog wrote about the passage of the fix legislation, AB2257 on Labor Day, and how it impacted the politically powerful Willie Brown, in his white collar freelance gig with the San Francisco Chronicle.
In her reaction to the new fix legislation in an opinion piece titled “White-Collar, White Professionals Get AB5 Exemptions. Why Don’t Black and Brown App-Based Drivers?”, Huffman says:
“The California legislature is known for producing progressive, forward-thinking policies that empower people of color. But when it comes to protecting the freedom of workers who drive cars, buy groceries, and deliver other services via app-based platforms—the majority of them Black and Brown Californians—the legislature is failing our community.
“You can’t achieve racial justice without economic justice, but instead of supporting smart protections, instead of finding creative ways to ensure the rights of Black and Brown people while enabling them to find good, flexible work, our legislators are mired in outdated ways of thinking that will cost our communities much-needed jobs and income.”Alice Huffman, California State NAACP president, “White-Collar, White Professionals Get AB5 Exemptions. Why Don’t Black and Brown App-Based Drivers?” in Observer News 9/8/20
What has been witnessed with AB5 and the fact the Democratic Party wants to make AB5 the law of the land through the PRO Act should frighten every freedom-loving American, no matter what political party one normally supports, or even if one backs President Trump or not. With the inputs of the civil rights organizations and leaders in California, in mid 2020 all are witnessing:
- California government picking and choosing winners with freedom to market their labor the way they want to through “exemptions”, and individuals losing the right to do the same which opens the door to “buying” exemptions
- Systemic racism taking in more forms outside of law enforcement
- Leftist policies in spite of the most noblest of intentions having disastrous results
- A taste of what socialism really looks like in California
As published back in late June here on McHenry County Blog, Democrat Joe Biden wants to make the PRO Act the law of the land and came out against Proposition 22.
This past Labor Day, Biden doubled down his support for the PRO Act:
And from Biden’s Labor Day tweet, there is the lie. The lie that the PRO Act is about workers organizing for collective bargaining.
The truth, as the California civil rights leaders pointed out, is laws like AB5 and the PRO Act forces workers to depend on others to achieve their professional/career goals, instead of the freedom to make the choices individually.
But beyond this truth is other truth Biden did not say this past Monday. The PRO Act will rob 27 states, including all of Illinois’ neighbors (except Missouri) of the right-to-work protections these states have established through right-to-work laws. The PRO Act eliminates state Right-to-Work laws.
To be fair to Congressman Sean Casten and Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, the PRO Act was passed in early February, with barely a month of the implementation of the AB5 law in California. Fair question to ask this campaign season to both incumbents and their Republican challengers would be the decision to use the ABC or the IRS test to classify workers?
That is a question all candidates, both at federal, and even state level, should ask, because Illinois could be facing state level worker classification legislation as soon as the fall veto session.
As Illinois Republicans, during the Republican National Convention last month, announced initiatives for minority outreach including the formation of the Illinois Black Republican Coalition perhaps the issue of worker classification and the credible stance against AB5, and in turn opposition to the PRO Act, can be part of the outreach?
While the Hispanic outreach announced last month was not nearly as formal, maybe this and other issues is an example where the Democratic Party has taken Hispanics for granted?
Time will tell and with just over 50 days before all ballots are due and may all be educated on the issues before casting ballots.
McHenry County Blog believes in full context, so the external references are below with the full context of the opinion pieces of Dr. Chavis, Mr. Lombard and Ms. Huffman:
- Dr. Chavis’ “Black Riders Matter”, Los Angeles Sentinel 8/27/20
- Mr. Lombard’s response to Lorena Gonzalez, Business Wire 6/9/20
- Ms. Huffman’s “White-Collar, White Professionals Get AB5 Exemptions. Why Don’t Black and Brown App-Based Drivers?“, Observer News 9/8/20
Appendix: Lorena Gonzalez Interview
Yesterday, California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher was interviewed by the Freelancers Union for nearly 20 minutes at the end of the video below. The video is cued to the start of her interview.
Straight from the author of AB5, her take on what has been done. Viewers are advised it is a very one-sided view and the highest level of discernment needed to sift through her words:
And finally, on Labor Day morning, freelance cartoonist Jim Thompson, because of AB5 can no longer submit his work and be compensated by the Los Angeles Times put his thoughts of what Gonzalez and labor union bosses want to do to freelancers: