Despite decades of data to the contrary, Democrats cannot get one thing through to their thick skulls: government initiatives to push a moralistic agenda never works. Case in point is California Assembly Bill 5, or AB 5 for short. Also nicknamed the “gig worker law,” leftist politicians designed this measure to promote fairness in the workplace.
Instead, they’re about to oversee one of the biggest economic implosions in recent memory.
In short, AB5 came about because of growing complaints from ride-sharing drivers. Under the law, current language considers Uber or Lyft drivers as independent contractors. That is, these folks are free to set their own schedule and work whenever they can. Essentially, they are their own bosses.
As such, they must own the responsibilities of being the boss. These include but are not limited to providing for their own health coverage and to sock away enough for retirement. Some folks thrive in an independent setting, while others prefer the government take care of them.
Unfortunately, and in a short-sighted manner, some ride-sharing drivers developed an attitude problem: they resented companies like Uber or Lyft for not giving them the benefits due an employee. Instead, they were independent contractors. And that meant they were disposable.
But here’s the thing: nobody forced a gun into anybody’s head to become an independent contractor.
AB 5 Is Incredibly Myopic and Damaging
Well, the Democrats don’t see it that way. To them, they can never let a good crisis go to waste.
In the pretense of worker protections, leftists penned AB 5 to prevent companies from classifying employees as independent contractors. In prior assessments in California, what constituted an independent contract for work was fairly broad. Now, the definition has tightened considerably, threatening to destroy tens of thousands of livelihoods.
By pushing AB 5, other states may no longer contract work to Californians out of reasonable fear of litigation. But more critically, the new law forces people into a tough, perhaps untenable choice: become an employee or leave the state of California.
Cynically, I view this as an attempt to coerce Golden State residents to suck the teat of big corporations and government. As you know, employees are much more manageable and controllable than independent contractors.
Indeed, with an independent contractor, it’s harder to impose liberal philosophies onto them. After all, you can’t fire them because they’re in business for themselves. But with employees, reputation is everything. Losing that, they can end up losing their jobs, which kills their livelihood.
Put another way, employees are necessarily passive, which is exactly what California wants for all of us.