Opinion / Politics

This California Law Is Ripping Away American Dreams. The Left Wants to Take It Nationwide.

californiaFluent in English, Spanish, and sign language, Sophia Aguirre has worked as an interpreter for 30 years.

Whether it’s serving as a translator for video programs that enable the hearing-impaired to communicate by phone, or teaching American Sign Language to deaf children in their homes, Aguirre has helped countless Americans engage in daily life.

For them, there’s no question that her work is “essential.” But since January, Aguirre has struggled to maintain employment.

While COVID-19 hasn’t helped, the real obstacle is a new California law: Assembly Bill 5. The measure, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom last year, is so notorious that in the Golden State, it’s known simply as “AB5.”

Despite mounting pushback in California, Democrats want to take it nationwide, passing the Protecting the Right to Organize Act—dubbed the PRO Act—through the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year.

“AB5 will not only disrupt my life; it will destroy my life,” Aguirre said of the measure. “It will devastate me.”

Aguirre says that she’s never faced the “workers’ rights” issues that AB5 claims to fix. (Photo: Sophia Aguirre/IWF)

Since AB5 took effect in California on Jan. 1, Aguirre said, agencies have been hesitant to hire her for translating work. Uncertain of AB5’s new terms, companies now view independent contractors as a risk.

“Instead of being an asset to them, we’re a liability,” she said.

As a result, Aguirre’s income has been slashed.

The Story Behind AB5

In essence, AB5 requires companies to reclassify “gig” workers as full-time employees. It was designed to target the gig economy; specifically, companies such as Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash, which rely on thousands of independent contractors to provide their services. In exchange for flexible hours and the ability to come and go as they please, these workers forgo benefits such as health insurance, sick leave, and more.

Proponents of the measure argue that by severely regulating the type and scale of work independent contractors are allowed to perform, employers will be forced to hire them as full-time employees with benefits. However good the intentions were, in practice, AB5 has put independent contractors and small businesses out of work.

AB5 mandates three strict conditions that employers must meet in order to classify a worker as an independent contractor, rather than as an employee. One condition that has been particularly problematic for independent contractors requires that they perform “work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.”

That means that if Aguirre is acting as an interpreter for more than a few hours at a company that enables people with hearing disabilities to communicate over the phone, she now must be fully employed by that company instead of being an independent contractor who can set her own hours.

In addition to hurting her pocketbook, the policy hurts Aguirre personally. A single mom with two sons, she values flexibility over benefits or a salaried paycheck. Like many Californians, she’s an independent contractor by choice.

Taking Away a Yogi’s Flexibility

A traditional 9-to-5 job also never made sense for 54-year-old Jennifer O’Connell. A writer, yoga instructor, and career-reinvention coach, she prefers taking on an assortment of projects, rather than just one.

“It didn’t matter what time I did work, because I was talking to schools across the world,” she said. “That allowed me flexibility during my day to go teach my regular [yoga] classes for my part-time W-2 job and then come back and maybe work on an article, do interviews, or work on yoga certifications.”

Jennifer O’Connell says because of AB5, her life has been drastically altered. (Photo: O’Connell/IWF)

Because of AB5, O’Connell said gyms and yoga studios can no longer hire her for occasional anatomy lectures anymore.

“They are moving training online, and that affects people like me who would go around and do lectures,” she said. “The small mom-and-pop studios aren’t going to open their doors again.”

The implications for O’Connell’s career have been so bad that she and her husband briefly considered leaving the state. But instead of leaving, O’Connell is fighting back, hoping that lawmakers and the constituents who vote for them hear her story and finally listen.

“Hopefully, the temperature of the electorate is very much tired of this kind of stuff,” she said. “If we stay loud and vocal, it could very well turn the presidential election, or at least influence it.”

A Writer’s Lost Dreams

JoBeth McDaniel doesn’t know O’Connell or Aguirre, but she can identify with their stories. A California freelance writer, McDaniel has enjoyed the perks of working for herself, since it helped pay her way through college in the 1980s. Her byline has been published in Life, AARP Magazine, Hearst Magazines, The New York Times, USA Today, and more.

In pursuing a career as an independent contractor, McDaniel creates and manages her own schedule, and avoids a three-hour commute in busy Los Angeles County. She doesn’t have to request time off for the doctor, to take a vacation, or when she wanted to care for her dying father. Traditional benefits aren’t something she wants or needs.

“There are all these very adult decisions that are at play when you freelance,” McDaniel said. “AB5 pretends that the state knows better than we do in making those decisions.”

As a journalist, McDaniel has been vocal in her opposition to AB5. But journalists, she says, “are just the tip of the iceberg.” (Photo: McDaniel/IWF)

In addition to limiting the amount of writing freelance workers can publish, AB5 brought McDaniel’s passion project to a grinding halt. For years, she’s been working on a book and wanted to produce an accompanying podcast. She paid for podcast training and was prepared to hire independent contractors to help produce and edit her work, but after consulting with lawyers and people in the industry, she concluded that because of AB5, “I just can’t do it right now. The risks are too high.”

That not only leaves McDaniel out of work, but also the contractors she wanted to hire.

“I just stopped all of it,” she says. “It was heartbreaking. I had put so much time into it.”

The Lasting Effects

AB5’s impacts don’t stop there. The measure has hit a variety of occupations: videographers, handymen, musicians, truckers, computer coders, and more. As part of the Chasing Work campaign, the Independent Women’s Forum is highlighting the diverse ways workers are being hurt.

For Aguirre, AB5 will “place me in a different social-economic status,” she said. And that’s not to mention the impact it will have on all those she helps.

O’Connell said that if AB5 isn’t repealed, she’ll lose her flexibility and choice. “They don’t want people having vocational and economic freedom,” she said. “They want you chained to the union. They want to make everyone a class of workers tied to the system.”

For McDaniel, AB5 is taking away her ability to work for herself. It’s “anti-American,” she said. “Self-employment is the American way.”

An estimated 36% of U.S. workers are involved in the gig economy, the vast majority by choice. With an economy now struggling because of COVID-19, the ability to work is more important than ever.

Instead of squeezing workers from the economy, politicians and lawmakers should do the opposite; namely, pursue policies that give Americans more choice, more flexibility, and more opportunities to work.

Reprinted with Permission from - Daily Signal by - Kelsey Bolar

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Pat R
1 year ago

Wonder if AB5 is intended to aid illegals to get benefits they aren’t entitled to — because they’re ILLEGAL. Would definitely fit Calif, as well as all Democrats’ aim to buy votes.

Edward T Curtis
1 year ago

Of course, not only the state of California wants to eliminate self employed, unions would love it too. Both of those entities thrive on people being de-
pendent on them. Democrats and Unions are synonymous in their desire to make people dependent on them. That makes the dream of absolute power a possibility. Once you have power over enough people whether it is “Entitlements” from the government or Unions demanding unrealistic perks from employers. Once they have the peoples backing they are able to pass any legislation that erodes the citizen’s individuality – and the citizen will never see it coming.
I used to be proud to say I lived in the state of California; Now I just say, “I am so glad I am no longer living in the once great state of California that is now looking like third world countries in many areas.

1 year ago

I guess that means movie stars will not be making anymore movies and the tv shows they are own will have to stop . Movie stars are not working for a company they work for there self.

Dr. Tact
1 year ago


Kenneth Guay
1 year ago

If I don’t like a movie I will get up and walk out. Time to move but leave any liberal thoughts and actions there.

1 year ago

If they can’t get a Sanders (remember Bernie?) or AOC (barely out of a Pampers) to run the country, the folks behind this will try to get socialism in state by state.

1 year ago

I am a retail merchandiser. I work for numerous companies that supply specialized labor for retailers. I get to choose who to work for, where to work, and so much more. If this type of legislation went nation wide, this whole industry would be shut down. I would have no work at all. My fall back, computer consulting, seems like it would be equally as hard hit. Turns out there is a federal minimum wage for contract programmers. It has lead to so much off shoring that guys like me have been forced to leave the profession. Why do these politicians think they are helping us? Why?

1 year ago

If an employee and an employer agree on the arrangements (benefits or not, etc.), in the beginning, leave it up to them. GET THE GOVERNMENT OF CA OUT OF THE PLAN.

1 year ago

these democrat governors and mayors have done and are doing more harm to the cities and states… only HOPE VOTE them out !

Jeanette Fenton
1 year ago

It seems they just need to set up a business, get a business license etc. to be ok. Before you didn’t need to be a business, just an independent but now you should be licensed as a company – doesn’t matter if you’re a sole proprietor, only that you are a business.

1 year ago

You get the point. The Democrat Marxists don’t care about you they want to control every aspect of your life and own your soul. Oh, I forgot. Marxists are atheists and therefore do not believe you have one.

Bill Brown
1 year ago

The Democrat Part is being funded by the “One World Government”!!  Stand-up for America!!  Remove Every Democrat!!!!!

Bill Brown
1 year ago

Anyone watching CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC National News and Local News, are being BRAINWASHED!!!  Almost nothing but LIES, DECEIT, and PROPOGANDA!!  Includes almost half of FOX News Broadcasts.  Turn-off Mainstream News!!!!!

Bill Brown
1 year ago

IF YOU LOVE YOUR CHILDREN, find an alternative to Public Education.  It destroys individual thinking!!  Charter and Parochial Schools can be OK but Home Education is best although it may require lifestyle changes.  EACH OF US MUST CHOOSE!  “IF YOU LOVE YOUR CHILDREN…”

Bill Brown
1 year ago

Become a Counter-Revolutionary!  Demand Authority ENFORCE OUR LAWS!!  Stand-up for America!!  Remove Every Democrat!!!!!

Bill Brown
1 year ago

The Democrat Party is Communist!  Stand-up for America!!  Remove Every Democrat!!!!!

1 year ago

I live in CA, and am so sure we have both undocumented people voting and other voter fraud to the point it is impossible to get the state back to a right side position.

1 year ago

This is all about Unions. The liberal Democrats in CA – want them counted as employees so the Unions can unionize them for union dues – so the Union can then send money to the Democrats in the state government of California. CA should get out of the United States – they are a negative drag on tax dollars anyway. And about 30% of their population is illegal aliens anyway. Mexico is moving to California – person by person. The President, while on a visit to CA late last year was asked why was he visiting CA — his reply –“so I can be near my people”.

1 year ago

My reference to The President —I mean the President of Mexico was visiting CA late last year. He was there to be near his people was his response.

Larry Peterson
1 year ago

This is nothing short of more socialist crap. California is pushing the collective mentality beyond recognition.

Dino Deplorable
1 year ago

Of course its from kalifornia and the desk of gaffy nitwit,will those slugs ever learn.

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