A controversial California labor law that limits companies from hiring contract or gig workers is leading to a shortage in health care workers in the state, and is making the task of hiring people unnecessarily burdensome.
Of course, few people would expect more from a state with leadership that prioritizes regulations and virtue-signaling above all else.
Democrats in California continue to praise the implementation of Assembly Bill 5, a union-backed and union-written law that forces companies in a number of different industries to classify some workers as employees and not contractors.
The law gives contractors benefits and other perks generally assigned to full-time employees.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom proudly signed the bill into law in September with the full support of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, which authored it.
While the law was aimed at classifying contractors for companies such as Uber and Lyft as employees, it has created a ripple effect that is now leaving medical facilities and other frontline response sectors understaffed.
The Washington Free Beacon reported that the law, AB5, is crippling the state’s ability to respond to the threat posed by the coronavirus, especially in rural areas.
“Many hospitals, particularly in rural communities, rely on independent contractors to provide health services, as they lack the resources to support full-time employees. And as thousands of Californians face unemployment due to the pandemic, AB5 makes it nearly impossible for workers to take on temporary jobs from home,” the Free Beacon reported.
As the coronavirus has shifted the dynamics of employment in California and across the country, there is a demand for people who are either unemployed or underemployed to earn money. Sadly, many are reported to be having a difficult time getting around the state’s red tape in order to find work.
Due to hiring restrictions as a result of AB5, many Californians are doing without in the name of regulation.
Business owners, state lawmakers and more than 150 economists have asked Newsom to temporarily suspend the law, while others are asking him to outright repeal it.
“A sizable amount of the debate over AB 5 has focused on whether the law is protecting worker rights or limiting their freedom,” the Times reported.
But Newsom has made it clear he is standing by big labor.
The Free Beacon reported that Newsom defended AB5 during a Wednesday media briefing.
“The state of California prides itself on being a national leader as it relates to protecting our workers from misclassification,” he said, adding that California is “advancing the cause in righting those wrongs and continuing to transition in the implementation of AB5.”
The AFL-CIO’s Northern California-based North Bay Labor Council praised AB5 last year for making it “harder for companies to claim that workers are independent contractors, saying workers are employees if companies control their activities, if they do work central to the company’s business, and if the workers do not have independent enterprises doing that work.”
Newsom praised the law as a means to protect the middle class upon signing it last year, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“The hollowing out of our middle-class has been 40 years in the making, and the need to create lasting economic security for our workforce demands action,” the governor said in a September statement.
Business Insider reported in December that AB5 had already begun putting happy contractors out of work ahead of Christmas.
“California lawmakers meant for [AB5] to help Uber and Lyft drivers get more pay and benefits for working long hours. But instead, to save money, companies responded by slashing jobs for part-time and full-time freelance workers altogether — right before the holidays,” the outlet reported.
Now, with Californians in dire straits during an emergent health and economic crisis, Newsom is placing his state’s need to virtue-signal and pander to big labor above the public’s health and economic needs.
The editorial board of The Orange County Register is asking state lawmakers to repeal the law, which it described as “flawed and counterproductive.”
“With the long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic likely to drag on for some time, laws like AB5 will only make California’s economic recovery much harder, while artificially restricting the nature of work for Californians,” the newspaper’s editorial board wrote. “We continue to urge its repeal.”
But California lawmakers don’t care about effective policy; they are far more interested in passing laws that make them feel good about themselves — even as the state’s rural health care facilities and contract workers struggle to stay afloat.
While AB5 currently only applies to California, it could become a national issue in the coming months, as former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has given the legislation his full support.
Last month, Biden described AB5 as “ground-breaking,” according to the Free Beacon.
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