LOS ANGELES: The fight against AB5 has gained some unlikely allies, wielding more blows to dismantle this flawed and weakened law. AB5 targeted Uber and Lyft, and was supposed to address misclassification of workers; instead, it has only served to put millions of freelancers and independent contractors out of work.
Leo Terrell is a Black civil rights attorney and talk radio host for KABC Los Angeles. He has a national platform with his appearances on cable news shows like Hannity and the Ingraham Angle. Most importantly, he has been tweeting and posting videos advocating the Repeal of AB5.
Terrell has been talking about AB5 on his radio program and has been tweeting about it since early April. He has committed to getting an audience with Governor Gavin Newsom and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, the bill’s sponsor, in order to discuss the law’s effect on independent professionals.
As Terrell stated in one of his videos,
“People are hurting because they cannot work due to the restrictions of AB5. I’m talking about independent contractors. I’m talking about Democrats and Republicans.”
Well I will go to the media. I have the credibility to do so. We need to rally the "common citizen." We can do it. I am not quitting. I am committed.
— TheLeoTerrell (@TheLeoTerrell) May 26, 2020
One of the false flags Asm. Gonzalez enjoys raising on Twitter is that anyone who wants AB5 repealed is either a Labor broker, a Trump supporter, or an anti-vaxxer.
The real agenda for Asm. Gonzalez is to gaslight and keep her law on the books.
But Terrell is a staunch Democrat and even more staunchly anti-Trump. He is also pro-Black, and pro-common sense. Despite his success and platform, Terrell has stayed connected with his community.
While Terrell sees the damage the law is doing to all independent contractors and freelancers, AB5 has taken an especially harsh toll on minorities and women.
On May 14, California State Senator Shannon Grove’s SB 806 (another relief bill to suspend AB5 during the pandemic) was presented to the Senate Labor and Employment Committee. Thanks in part to Senator Hannah-Beth “Lollipop” Jackson, the bill was tabled for another time. Asm. Gonzalez was quite pleased with this result.
Gonzalez is a petty tyrant, heading up both the Assembly appropriations and employment and labor committees. She has unchecked power to push bills forward or kill them before they reach the floor. Asm. Gonzalez wielded her power with great vengeance on the Legislature’s return to Sacramento on May 4.
According to Karen Anderson, organizer and facilitator for the over 17,000 member strong Freelancers Against AB5 group on Facebook. Anderson wrote on social media that there were at least:
“Thirty-four pending bills to amend, suspend, or repeal AB5 waiting to be heard in the legislature. As of today, almost all of these bills —which would have helped hundreds of thousands of California freelancers and small businesses across a variety of trades, industries, and professions — have been tabled, spiked, or voted down by a tiny cabal of committee members in the Senate and the Assembly,”
“Now we are left with Lorena Gonzalez’s half-baked “cleanup” bills[…] Her “fixes” to AB5 are a hodgepodge of mishmash, mumbo-jumbo and smoke-and-mirrors scotch-taped together as “exemptions” for a handful of chosen few. And before anybody gets too excited about the alleged relief coming your way, as always, the devil is in the details.”
Of course, Asm. Gonzalez’s garbage exemption bills cleared the labor and economic committee hurdle. The result being that she became even more insufferable. She took to Twitter, trading in her usual vitriol and F-Bombs toward her detractors for Evita-like spouting about her commitment to “add clarity” to AB5 and to advocate for immigrants and working poor. Asm. Gonzalez then paraded herself on the social media runway like a former pageant queen, to receive the crown of Mother Teresa of Policy.
Women and minorities are suffering under California’s AB5 law
Since the law’s implementation in January, it has become more and more apparent that people of color and low and fixed income professionals are suffering greatly under AB5. Especially in the age of COVID-19. So, Asm. Gonzalez’ wrapping herself in a cloak of virtue and activism and refusing to repeal AB5 only serves to keep minorities and women marginalized and disenfranchised.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, California is one of the states that have the largest number of women-owned businesses in the country. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.3 million. No doubt, this 2020 Census will tell a different tale thanks to AB5.
Some of these businesses were built over years, even decades from fledgling to successful income streams. Thanks to AB5, and the double blow of the COVID-19 shelter-at-home orders, many of these independent businesses are never coming back.
Over the many months, the law has been in effect, independent contractors, freelancers, and gig workers have shared their AB5 Stories. More than half of these stories are from women, and a good share of those are minority women. What they all have in common is AB5 tearing apart established livelihoods in an instant, as well as destroying the ability to lift other women and minorities through that livelihood.
Sylvia Amorino Gonzalez, not a relation to the assemblywoman, ran a small nonprofit opera company.
“I am scrambling to comply with this terribly written law[…]companies in the SF Bay Area going dark until they figure AB5 out, or canceling their season because they don’t have the money to comply or can’t set it up in time, or closing altogether,”
“I am sad and sick as I watch the arts crumble around me,” Gonzalez continued. “Some of these companies have been in business for as long as 50 years!!!! All give jobs to many musicians, singers, actors, dancers, designers, staff, etc. I am in shock. I have been in the business for over 40 years and have not seen anything as tragic as this EVER!”
Gail Gordon, founder and executive director of Numi Opera is another woman affected by AB5.
Gail lost her dream, livelihood, and her ability to lift others in the community. Her Opera house was not only founded to give voice to Jewish composers suppressed by the Nazis, but it was built in honor of immigrants that Asm. Gonzalez claims she champions.
But above that, Numi Opera was a conduit for classical performers to build their careers and pursue their dreams.
“Classical performers spend most of their lives honing their craft. They take lessons and coachings to be able to perform,” Gail wrote. “AB5 will annihilate these small opera companies. We are the stepping stones to bigger companies. Without us our performers will not be able to be prepared for larger roles and bigger paychecks. They’ve been cut off at the knees.”
To give new meaning to kicking someone while they are down, Asm. Gonzalez’s so-called musician exemptions (AB 2257) does not exempt classical performers or the theater. Asm. Gonzalez continues to pick winners and losers, pouring more salt in the wounds of minority and professional women.
Numi Opera’s Gail also dispels the myth that the impetus behind Repeal AB5 is fueled by right-wing sentiment. Gail has voted Democrat most of her adult life.
“I have a huge hole in my heart. The party that I have been dedicated to for 50 years has betrayed me and those I represent.”
The California Globe further destroys Asm. Gonzalez’s straw man of partisan opposition. In “Uber Exception to AB5 Slated For November Ballot”, the article discussed California voter’s opportunity to cast their vote to exclude Uber and all app drivers from the AB5 law.
The initiative would create a new “independent class” for these drivers; in essence, ripping the heart out of the law, and giving other independent professions a fighting chance.
Asm. Gonzalez, Governor Newsom, and the Unions know this. Hence, the lawsuits against Uber and Lyft, along with the propaganda tactics to tear down this initiative before November.
The article then revealed that the Reverend Al Sharpton’s organization is also behind the ballot initiative to see AB5 gutted:
“The head of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in Sacramento also turned it into a civil rights issue, arguing that AB5 harms drivers who are minorities.”
Tecoy Porter of NAN-Sacramento said in a statement:
“Families across California are struggling to make ends meet, particularly people of color and lower-income individuals. This ballot measure will protect the rights of workers to earn extra income or primary income on their own terms while providing historic new earnings and benefit guarantees. This measure is a good deal for California workers.”
One of the most left-wing and pro-Democrat organizations is supporting the ballot initiative, and eschewing AB5. Asm. Gonzalez and her lot will have a tough time squaring that circle.
Even with California now in various phases of re-opening, because of AB5, the economic forecast and unemployment numbers reflect there may be no coming back for minorities and women-owned businesses.
In “What the Pandemic Means for the Wage Gap”, Forbes contributor Holly Corbett explains,
“[j]ust as with the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009, when unemployment rates peaked at 10%, people of color are among the hardest hit.”
What AB5 Steals from Californians
Just last week, this community studio owned by a minority woman could not experience the joy of reopening. Instead, she had to close her doors:
Thanks to AB5, we are losing creativity, vision, voices, and essential community spaces that support minorities, women, and lower-income professionals as part of the fabric of the State. While Asm. Gonzalez alternates between her role as a champion for the poor and martyr for the cause, independent women and minority professionals struggle to survive or flee to more business-friendly environments.
Back in September, Regina B. Wilson, executive director of California Black Media, a network of Black publishers, writers, and journalists, wrote an editorial to Asm. Gonzalez and Governor Newsom decrying AB5’s effect on Black media.
“Shouldn’t AB5 be helping to narrow the immense wealth gap that exists in the richest state of the nation? The disparity between the ultra-rich and the almost 20 million people in California who live below the poverty line — or who fight to hover just above it — is growing,” she said.
“For African-American newspaper owners, surviving in an industry with emergence of the internet has almost put us on life support, AB5 would do the exact opposite of what Gonzalez wants it to achieve. She might as well just pull the plug on our businesses.”
With Asm. Gonzalez’s insistence that AB5 remain, she has essentially done that. Ignoring the many independent professionals and small business organizations circling the drain.
Leo Terrell did receive a response from Asm. Gonzalez’s office on May 26. Terrell read that his request for a meeting will be reviewed to see if “the Assemblywoman is available.”
Just received response from #LorenaGonzalez office regarding my request to meet and discuss #AB5. We must remain committed
I will not quit. Watch response video. @LorenaSGonzalez @LorenaAD80 @GavinNewsom @AgainstAb5 @Ab45Repeal @Ab5Of pic.twitter.com/iI3aYEsQhy
— TheLeoTerrell (@TheLeoTerrell) May 26, 2020
It is our good fortune that a minority with a platform is now in the fight. We will see if the Mother Teresa of Policy actually sits down with him.
Lead Image: Numi Opera House Der Zwerg
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