Where Is She Now?
Things turned sour for San Diego’s Lorena Gonzalez after she outlawed freelancing.
In September 2019, Ms. Gonzalez was a successful and admired California Assemblywoman with a powerful Appropriations Committee chair. As a former Teamsters Union attorney, she now controlled the flow of all legislation through the Assembly and decided its funding. She basked in upward opportunity, and was already organizing her campaign for California Secretary of State.
Ms. Gonzalez had just shepherded a big piece of labor legislation named AB5 through two chambers of the California Legislature, assuring legislators AB5 would help freelancers by earning them employee benefits, since “they’re not real jobs.” However, as the bill’s sponsor, she had explicitly designed AB5 to completely eliminate freelancing.
On September 18th, 2019, Ms. Gonzalez got AB5 signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom, to go into effect January 1, 2020.
AB5 immediately started destroying California freelancers’ businesses in over 600 professions and occupations, including entertainers, analysts, designers and nurses. Clients all over the country started telling their self-employed consultants, advisors and creatives in California the new law prohibited their buying from Californians.
In defending her legislative vision of no freelancing, Ms. Gonzalez tangled with self-employed freelancers directly. Freelancers tackled her hard on social media with slogans, retweets, cartoons, videos of her personal explosions, and truth-telling waves of tweets, posts and emails to her fellow legislators. A freelancer’s widely circulated video recorded Ms. Gonzalez hurling scathing vulgarities at Tesla President Elon Musk, then a California employer.
While others resisted her, no group did as much destructive shelling of her as freelancers did, by highlighting her uncouthness, ethical short cuts, and cheap tactics.
As those punches landed Ms. Gonzalez’s reputation steadily declined. Her fellow legislators realized she had utterly misrepresented the constituent trouble she and her AB5 were getting them into. She made her fellow legislators’ 2020 campaigns much harder. Mr. Musk announced he would move Tesla’s headquarters to Austin, Texas. She was flagrant and condescending; privately, her fellow legislators came to hate her.
As her Sacramento colleagues turned on her, California unions realized Ms. Gonzalez’s value to them in the legislature had shrunk considerably. She was now excess baggage they had to carry while they had bigger fights on their hands. Somewhere, somehow, union winks and nods translated into Governor Newsom’s appointing others to higher office while she got frozen out.
Ms. Gonzalez closed her Secretary of State campaign after a year of loud brag-filled preparations. Though she had once felt her legislative and political future was bright, she now realized that her credibility had vanished. So, while she was drawing state employee pay as a sitting Assembly committee chair, she illegally negotiated for employment with the California Federation of Labor, CALabor, to be their Secretary-Treasurer, effectively as the boss of the 1,200-union federation.
During the negotiations, Ms. Gonzalez settled for a promise, and no more, of CALabor’s Secretary-Treasurer position beginning July, 2022, once the incumbent, Art Pulaski, retired.
Promise in hand, she bailed out of her Assembly committee chair—how often does that happen?—once she started a new calendar year of legislative service. The few additional days in 2022 likely earned her a higher state pension benefit. It was clear to observers that the freelancer attacks cost her a lot.
Ms. Gonzalez still claims freelancers are few in number, don’t have real jobs, are just bots and conservative trolls on social media, and would be better off as unionized regular employees. She has never acknowledged that freelancers are mostly women, mostly Democrats, face severe time restrictions, and most make double-or-more per hour what regular jobs would pay them.
Ms. Gonzalez’s current status? Right now Lorena Gonzalez is just a foulmouthed union enthusiast between jobs, the former public job paying $114,000 per year and the promised new private job $163,000.
AB5 continues to harm everyone it touches, including its sponsor.
By Mike Hruby
President, New Jobs America
July 5, 2022