Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher responds to Californians hurt by AB 5

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Since the start of 2020, KUSI has received messages from dozens of people who have been negatively affected by Assembly Bill 5. Their occupations vary, as we heard from truckers, translators, photojournalists, cartoonists, musicians and more.

This bill’s author, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher has said the bill’s goal was to protect workers who are being misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees, specifically those who work for Uber and Lyft.

She told us that there is no indication that thousands of freelancers have been laid off.

However, many of the independent contractors we have heard from have said they don’t want to be employees, and Gonzalez’s bill is producing the complete opposite result.

Lorena Gonzalez joined us in studio to respond to the Californians who claim they have been negatively affected by her sweeping bill that aims to reclassify independent contractors as employees.

KUSI’s complete AB 5 coverage can be seen here: www.kusi.com/ab5

On Twitter, Assemblywoman Gonzalez has been very responsive to critics of AB 5, as well as supporters. She has responded to those asking her questions, as well as telling them to book a meeting with her in her office.

As freelance journalist Michelle Mears said during her in-studio interview, Gonzalez is not always the friendliest when it comes to responding to critics. Mears specifically referenced the multiple times Gonzalez has claimed that independent contracting jobs or freelance jobs are “not good jobs to begin with.”

We asked Gonzalez about one of her tweets where she used profanity in a reply to someone who said, “don’t worry, people won’t be able to do 2-3 side hustles anymore. Thanks to you and #AB5.”

We also spoke with cartoonist Lisa Rothstein, who is incorporated, but still feeling the negative impact AB 5 has brought to many. She told KUSI that most companies would rather not deal with the confusing law and simply hire people that live in another state.

“Even if you’re exempt, and even if it doesn’t affect you like me, companies are already starting to fire their independent contractors because they just don’t want to be in non-compliance, and I don’t blame them, because they can hire from anywhere,” she said.

Lisa Rothstein’s full interview can be seen here.

Translators and interpreters have also been big critics of AB 5 because many of them have lost opportunities to work altogether. For example, Mary Konstantinidou has worked as a Greek translator for more than three decades. She actually voted for Assemblywoman Gonzalez but now feels betrayed by her legislation.

Konstantinidou’s lifelong career is now considered illegal in California. She said this is beyond politics for her, and showed her frustration saying, “you’re penalizing me? For what? For actually being a taxpayer who wants to work and does not want to be on welfare? I don’t want to be on that. I love this country, it makes no sense to me.”

In response, Gonzalez said, “I’m sorry and I feel that she does feel that way. But I don’t think it is true.”

More information on her story can be seen here.

The last interview we asked Gonzalez about was from Thursday evening with Peter Kalivas, the Executive Director of the PGK Project, a dance theater group.

Kalivas has already met with Gonzalez to discuss the concerns and problems his industry faces because of it. He says the broad language of the bill does not address the many different ways people earn a living in art, or in general.

Kalivas added, “AB 5 right now makes an assumption about self-employed people and people that work as independent contractors. It sort of assumes in a way that we are not capable of negotiating our own terms and conditions. So AB 5 is here to save us somehow, but we don’t need saving. ” Kalivas full interview can be seen here.

Despite the concerns from so many independent contractors and freelancers across California, Governor Newsom has included nearly $20 million in proposed budget to enforce the new regulations of AB 5.

Categories: California News, In Studio Guests, Local San Diego News, Politics