California Freelance Slayer Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher’s Ego Wrote Checks Her Mouth Couldn’t Cash – Opinion

Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-Evita), a California legislator, is stepping down as the Destroyer for Worlds. The author of the state’s union-written, anti-independent contractor law, she’s moving on to head the biggest union organization in California. While for the last nine years Gonzalez’s day job has been a California Assemblybirthingperson, in 2020 her side hustle was a human neutron bomb – she destroyed lives and left buildings standing.

Gonzalez is the credited creator of AB5 which, as a precursor to Federal PROAct, was borne out of a case called Dynamex v Superior CourtConcerning independent truck drivers’ employment status. Gonzalez and her union allies interpreted the case’s opinion as a license-to-kill, which they did. However, Gonzalez was not exempted from Gonzalez’s lobbying efforts. The new law exempted lawyers, doctors and CPAs from many of the favored professions.

Drivers of newspaper deliveries are exempt. Yes, independent drivers. If you paused and pondered, wasn’t Dynamex — the company at issue in the lawsuit leading to the “need” for AB5 — employing independent drivers, and wasn’t Gonzalez all about the “common worker”? Wasn’t AB5 designed specifically to “protect” these common workers? Why was this exempt? Those drivers didn’t have a lobby per se – they were freelancing for newspapers. Gonzalez was in dire need of newspapers. Her allies were newspapers. They gladly recited her claims and miraculously, newspaper delivery drivers were not. Independent writers? Nope.

AB5 passed 2019 and was made law by Vox Media on January 1, 2020. Freelance writers were told by clients they couldn’t continue their freelance contracts with magazines, newspapers, journals, and the like. Work on December 31, but no work on January 1.

Gonzalez’s campaign to outlaw the gig economy can be summed up as, “We must kill you to save you.” It became apparent even before AB5 became law that much of the “law” had nothing to do with the DynamexAB5 is not founded in the world of work or logic. Beyond the carve-outs for favored professions (like my exempted career as a lawyer), she and her union hacks had written in a “limit” of 35 pieces for freelance creatives (such as writers and cartoonists). A freelancer could submit 35 pieces to a particular client, but then they’re done. An artist might submit 35 pieces to a client, but the number 36 made them an employee. The number 35 came from where? No. Dynamex. It is not from any other labor code, case law, or statute.  It is not based on any industry statistics. She invented it out of thin air – and she admitted it.

Los Angeles Times editors informed me that I could stop cartooning in January 2020. It happened. Gonzalez, an arrogant hack, caused my LA Times feature cartoon to disappear for a while. It was then that I got involved as a political cartoonist. Let me explain.

The LA Times told me to take the remainder of the year off, so I wrote a tweet about AB5.

Re: Why I don’t cartoon for the LA Times #AB5 – a monumentally stupid and poorly drafted law put me on the sideline. The editors of my book. @latimessports I was able to rely on them, but they were responsible for my actions. We are grateful to all who looked forward each Saturday to my cartoons.

Even though I hadn’t tagged her, Gonzalez saw it and commented. She smiled and replied:

I’m sorry to hear that. In one month, the submission cap will be lifted.

Her comment was regarding a “fix-it” bill she authored and got passed (with a continued exemption for newspaper carriers). After AB5 became law it was abundantly clear even to a union hack like Lorena that thousands upon thousands of livelihoods in California were destroyed on January 1, 2020 – thanks to her – and normally very liberal artists were calling for her head instead of supporting her. Because of that, and not out of the goodness of her heart, Gonzalez spent nine months (yes, nine months) drafting a “fix” to her ruinous law with a new bill, AB2257. That law was only signed after none other than Willie Brown harassed Gavin Newsom to do so (Brown’s op-ed gig at the San Francisco Chronicle was being impacted!). The 35-piece limit she had in mind was removed.

While I was helped, many others were left devastated. It was too late. Gonzalez taking credit for the “fix-it” law is like an arsonist who starts a fire then takes credit for pulling out a garden hose to “save” the building she burned down. Her “I fixed it” reply only angered me, and I shot back:

Sorry? Well, if you’re sorry – I’ll ask the bank if it will cash that check. You can find the complete list here. #AB5The abomination was written one year ago. Everyone with working prefrontal cortex knows that last year was a disastrous year. Took a yr to ‘fix’ it. Umm Thanks?

By that point some California writers had gone nine months with little-to-no income, but Gonzalez’s “my bad, fixed it now” should satisfy their creditors, right?

I followed up with months of lampooning her, and those months have turned into years.

She activated me. I was converted from a sports cartoonist to a writer and political cartoonist.

I wasn’t the only one activated. Lorena’s antics, anti-business laws, and targeted harassment drove Elon Musk and Tesla out of California and led to the passage of Proposition 22 in November 2020, which rolled back AB5 as far as app-based gig companies/workers were concerned. At least one Democrat ally lost her bid for Congress in significant part because of her vote for AB5 and continued vocal support. While Gonzalez was once considered a shoo-in for any gubernatorial appointment, by the end of 2020 Gavin Newsom saw the writing on the wall and publicly snubbed Lorena when filling three significant offices: US Senator, Attorney General, and Secretary of State. Itre, too, her ego wrote checks her mouth couldn’t cash.

Given the changes in my professional life, perhaps I should send the new union head a “Thank You” note. But I doubt she’s happy for me.

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