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Letter to the Editor: Harley Rouda’s work in D.C. mimics AB 5

California Assembly Bill 5 (or AB5) is a state law passed in 2019 that makes it more difficult for people working for companies to do so as independent contractors. Instead, they must become employees and, while there are benefits to being an employee versus being an independent contractor like minimum wage laws, sick leave, and unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits, this makes companies less inclined to take on the burdens of employees over the short term.

This state of affairs has been and will be shrinking the number of job opportunities and will impact such freelance work like Uber and Lyft drivers, photographers, journalists, free-lance writers, and even shopping mall Santa Clauses. It was introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, and endorsed by Governor Gavin Newsom and signed into law by him in September of 2019. Of course, this is favored by unions already intent on overturning other similar “right to work” statues in other states.

One of the problems with the law — aside from destroying jobs — has been how it will be enforced. While some companies back away from contractual or gig relationships with individuals out of fear of legal and tax consequences, there are still others who still maintain clandestine relationships and are subject to enforcement. Sadly, Democrats in Sacramento have found that another $20 million will be needed for such enforcement burdening California’s blown-out budget.

Michelle Steel, Chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors and Republican candidate for CA-48, called on Governor Gavin Newsom to halt plans to spend this $20 million on enforcement of AB5 and put those funds toward recovery efforts from COVID-19.

“AB5 was driving jobs out of California before the pandemic. Now it’s even worse – setting aside $20 million for enforcement of this jobs-killing legislation when it could be used to aide our recovery effort makes zero sense,” Steel said, calling for the suspension of AB5.

“In Orange County we are doing everything in our power to help get people working again, and now the state wants to use taxpayer dollars to levy fines on these very same individuals and companies who are trying to claw their way out from the pandemic,” Steel added. “Sacramento should be trying to help our small businesses and independent contractors, not hold them down.”

Sadly, her opponent, incumbent Harley Rouda, has been not been as focused on the welfare of his Orange County constituents as Steel is. In fact, Rouda was active this past year in Washington, D.C. backing H.R. 2474 (Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2019), a new lawn that is the federal to AB5. Authored by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), H.R. 2474, would preempt state labor laws, overrule three Supreme Court decisions, and transform the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) into a punitive one. The PRO Act would:

  • Require workers to pay dues to a union;
  • Change the definition of joint employment in order to ease union organizing;
  • Amend the definition of employee to increase the pool of employees eligible for unionization;
  • Impose government-mandated arbitration to dictate employment terms in first negotiations;
  • Promote card-check organizing, a process that forces union representation on workers without a secret-ballot election.

In the final analysis, it’s a pity that Mr Rouda is so out of touch that he favors a bill mimicking AB5 in Congress because AB5 has generated a firestorm out here in California with millions feeling the effects of lost economic opportunities — particularly exacerbated by the COVID-19 situation. There’s even a proposition (Proposition 22) on the November ballot to exempt Uber and Lyft (so-called “app drivers”) from the law.

Clearly, Orange County — particularly CA-48 — needs someone with a little more foresight and a much better understanding of the needs of its constituents than Rouda seems to be offering.

William Phinizy
Fountain Valley, CA


  1. Defund Rouda Not the Police. Rouda is part of the Socialist Democratic Party of the United States whether he likes it or not. Many Left Socialist Communist Progressive candidates will be taking more and more of these do nothing Democratic Moderates out like Rouda in the voting primaries in the future. The Black Caucus Democrat of Saint Louis whose father started the Black Caucas was just taken out by one of these Socialist Democrats in his primary. These Socialist Communists Democrats (AOC, Omar Illan, Sanders) see that these so-called Moderate Democrats do nothing but enrich themselves in Washington D.C. The Left Wing Mob hates Obama, Clinton and Biden with a passion. The only reason they will be voting for Biden is to use him for their own agenda. AOC stated that if this was a different country she would not even be in the same party as Biden.

  2. Lyft may cease operations any day, as soon as Thursday, 8/20/20. Harley Rouda is putting hundreds of thousands of Californians out of work and stranding millions in the middle of a heat wave. He wants to take this poverty plan nation-wide. More drunk drivers, more poverty. Democrats cannot govern.

  3. Harley Rouda was a mistake that can be rectified in 2020. VOTE REPUBLICAN – Unless voters want the Black Lives Matter and Antifa violence to come to our neighborhoods.

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