By Colleen O'Connor
Dear Gov. Newsom:
There are hundreds of thousands of reasons to delay signing Assembly Bill 5 and instead push for its timely amendment.
AB 5—a bill that has passed both the Assembly and Senate and which you have pledged to sign—is laudable in its intent to require Uber, Lyft and other large “gig economy” companies to provide employees a minimum wage, paid sick days, and health insurance.
But it’s also clear this will cause hundreds thousands of part-time workers to lose their jobs. These workers need the flexible hours to survive—and avoid dropping into that ever-growing homeless category.
Californians face high housing costs, increased water rates, heavy gas taxes, transit fare increases, and rising food and health care costs. Losing that second or third job in the gig economy may force many into homelessness.
Startup companies will also suffer. As will mom-and-pop businesses. And musicians, caregivers, and part-timers in all fields.
It could be the “death knell” for 80,000 California franchise businesses.
As written, the bill includes about 40 exemptions for various occupations, but leaves out hundreds of others as deserving, but which lack lobbying funds and political clout.
Surely, Governor, you can wait. You were a businessman. You understand the innovations that make California so rich.
Send the bill back to the Legislature for a few more amendments to protect lots of valuable California startups. Protect the innovation economy that has served the state so well.
Who knows what a future Apple is starting in a garage.
And if you do nothing, there will likely be a major ballot fight that could cost the California Democratic Party, its candidates and the labor unions.
The gig economy giants affected by this bill have already pledged to spend $90 million to overturn AB 5 should it become law Jan. 1.
That $90 million must be countered by mostly Democratic donors, labor union funds and other contributions that could be better spent on down-ballot items.
San Diego has witnessed this costly political mayhem over a stadium site, mega developments in open spaces, infill fights, and loss of precious parkland and open space.
Why incur a well-financed opposition campaign—in a Presidential election year—that promises to be quite nasty with tear-jerky commercials featuring people falling outside the protections of AB 5?
You could lose big. Or win smart. What’s the rush?
So, Governor, delay the signing. Send the bill back for more refinement. Do not put more part-time and flex-time workers, mom-and-pop small businesses and startup companies at risk.
One of your supporters
Colleen O’Connor is a native San Diegan and a retired college professor.
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