A Brief AB-5 Update

Thursday, July 23, 2020

At Intellectual Takeout is a column by Walter Block that gives a snapshot of the status of the union-driven war on gig work, based in California. That state (via its AB-5 measure), states with similar measures or proposals, and Democrats at the national level who support the idea are endangering the livelihoods of 57 million -- one third of the American work force -- according to Block.

Block tells mainly of cases wending their way through the court system while most of us are preoccupied with the pandemic and civil unrest:

Neither is possible without freedom. (Image by Hannah Grace, via Unsplash, license.)
[T]he anti-gigsters may not fully succeed in their evil plan. There has been opposition from many quarters, and exceptions have had to be made. For example, the new law mandates that all freelance writers must now be considered employees if they publish 35 articles per year or more, but legislators are considering removing this restriction. Free speech lawsuits will test that provision in court. The judges, too, will have to rule on whether or not a state has jurisdiction over some 70,000 independent truckers who are engaged in interstate commerce. In like manner, Uber, Lyft and Postmates are refusing to cooperate; this, too, will have to be settled by the judiciary. However, it pays not to be too optimistic on this score. The taxman has prevailed, as have the rent controller and the tariff imposer. It may well be that these court cases will take the wind out of California's Assembly Bill 5's sails, but don't bet the farm on such an outcome. [link omitted, bold added]
Don't bet the farm indeed.

I wouldn't put it past California's power-drunk legislature to exempt writers -- an obviously vocal constituency -- for purely cynical reasons, and if the Supreme Court's failure to rule Obamacare unconstitutional taught us anything, it's not to hope for a court to do its job -- as its Chief Justice put it then -- while demonstrating that he did not know what that job was.

If I recall correctly, there may be measures on the ballot this fall to limit or outright repeal AB-5, although even those may be lacking in terms of fundamentally challenging the premise of this freedom-destroying law or pushing back this power grab in any meaningful way.

-- CAV

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