AB 5 Needs to Be Suspended

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Transitioning to the new AB regime was already proving to be extremely difficult before the COVID19 pandemic hit.

Now, the transition is impossible.

Workers are having their lives upended. People are being told not to go to offices, to work remotely. And many people, facing the prospect of furloughs and layoffs, are going to be looking for work in whatever form they can find it.

AB 5 could stand in their way. Perhaps, in desperate times, they can find work from people who don’t much care to comply right now. But such arrangements are likely to become legal targets in the future.

I’m not calling for AB 5’s repeal. The legislation has big problems, but also makes advances. But it clearly needs to be suspended right now—at least for the duration of the current crisis, and better to the end of the year.

The bill’s stalwart supporters will cry foul, but they would build good will by taking this step affirmatively. If they won’t suspend it, they need to pass legislation offering some sort of grace period tied to the current crisis.

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