Among all the professions that have very interested members in the California gubernatorial recall election, independent freelancers and gig workers may make up the least-polled group by pundits and commentators as election day on Tuesday has been approaching.
California’s “gig worker bill,” also referred to as Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), went into effect on January 1, 2020, and requires companies that hire independent contractors to classify them as employees legally. The state’s workers who AB5 has hammered might be the most motivated of all in fighting for the recall of Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom.
Gig workers do not fit neatly into any traditional voting bloc. Workers affected by AB5 include Democrats and Republicans, all races and ages, and every socioeconomic group. Pollsters do not effectively classify gig economy workers to gather their opinion on the upcoming recall vote.
They recently had a prominent role in electing Republican Mike Garcia in California’s 25th Congressional District. Smith campaigned on the impact of AB5 against an incumbent who was a vocal advocate for the law who also angered self-employed independent contractors. The sentiment that pushed Garcia to victory may resonate statewide on the question of unseating Newsom, who has his bad AB5 optics to deal with.
AB5 began its life as a putative aid for Uber and Lyft drivers, but as often happens with legislation and good intentions, it has decimated entire sectors of the California economy. Independent theaters and live music venues have been particularly hard hit, as a rule effectively removes the right of an independent creator to operate as a gig worker in the state.
Analysts believe 4.5 million or more independent contractors in California have been adversely affected by the law. Over 600 professions have been counted so far that have felt the bite of the law.
Labor unions and Democrat politicians pushed AB5 through the legislative process. Shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic burst onto the scene, it was signed into law and crushed an already flagging California economy.
As the election closes in, most corporate media polling shows that recent trends indicate that Newsom is likely to escape recall. Republicans and conservatives around the country are anxiously anticipating the possibility that mainstream polling has missed the target yet again.