It is not often that a defender of a state regulation will concede that they are, figuratively speaking, taking candy from a child, but California State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson is an exception. On Thursday, she compared defending AB5, the state’s “worker misclassification” law, to snatching away a “lollipop” from a child.
The state senator made the comments Thursday in a California State Legislature labor committee hearing on the bill, SB 806, that would have rolled back AB5. Freelancers and Independent workers from across the state pleaded for relief from during the hearing’s public comment section. AB5 puts strict limits on such contractor work, leaving many freelance workers in a tough position, especially now due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“I’m self-employed. As a Mexican immigrant, I urge you to strongly support SB 806 so I can continue to purse the American Dream,” said a caller who identified himself as Jesse Rojas from Bakersfield.
Jackson, an AB5 supporter, claimed that she had sympathy for genuine freelancers but argued that many people who thought they were freelancers were really just employees. These people had been misclassified as contractors, so employers could get out of abiding by minimum wage, overtime and state and federal regulations. Fixing that was more important, she argued:
The point is that employers don’t want to hire them. They don’t want to have to abide by these regulations. So, somewhere there is a happy medium. I don’t think this is it, but I appreciate your bringing the bill. And I appreciate the frustration people have. It is kind of taking away the lollipop that they had. The ability to decide essentially when they worked. But the fact is they had no protections when they worked. [Emphasis added]
Well, Jackson was being refreshingly honest, at least. It is rare for liberal, supposedly pro-worker lawmakers like her to concede that they’ll limit the rights of individual workers rather than expand them to serve their pollical goal. She deserves a lollipop for that.