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Prez Candidates Speak on CA “Gig” Worker Bill

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Presidential candidates weigh in on California fight over “gig” workers

(CalMatters) In what could be another reflection of California’s newly relevant role in the presidential primary, Elizabeth Warren penned an op-ed supporting a California bill that would make it harder for companies to classify workers as “independent contractors.”

What was once an obscure, weedsy legal battle over labor classification in California is now well on its way to becoming a capital-I Issue on the presidential campaign trail.

This morning, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee supporting a California bill that would make it harder for companies to classify workers as “independent contractors.” In the process, she not only waded into what has largely been a California-specific debate, but provided yet another way to distinguish herself from the many other Democrats in what remains a very crowded field hoping to unseat President Donald Trump.

“All Democrats need to stand up and say, without hedging, that we support AB 5 and back full employee status for gig workers,” she said.

The bill, authored by San Diego Democrat Lorena Gonzalez, takes aim at gig economy titans like Uber, Lyft and Doordash whose drivers and delivery personnel are classified as self-employed entrepreneurs and therefore exempt from minimum wage guarantees and other legal protections extended to employees. The bill would codified a state Supreme Court ruling from last year (Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles), which applied a new, more restrictive “ABC” standard for labor classification in the case of a contract security guard.

As CalMatters has reported earlier this summer, the bill could also shake up traditional corners of the labor market as well, reclassifying truck drivers, nail salon workers and strippers.

Responding by email, Gonzalez said she thought it was “pretty damn cool” that her bill had the full throated backing of a major presidential candidate.

While Warren is the first candidate to take an unambiguous position on AB5, others have staked out similar stances in other ways.

  • Last year, immediately following the California Supreme Court ruling, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that would write the stricter Dynamex ruling into national labor law.
  • While passing through San Francisco in June for the California Democratic Convention, Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, told a gathering of Service Employees International Union members that “if you’re working, that makes you a worker.”

Warren might not seem an obvious champion of a California bill. Her recent hire of Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon’s former communications director, Kevin Liao, may have helped put the issue on her radar. (Asked about his role, Liao responded in an email: “I’m just a humble member of the team.”)

But her position on the issue also reflects California’s new prominence on the presidential primary calendar. With poll places opening on March 3, giving Californians who vote by mail the opportunity to cast their ballot as early as the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, making a good impression on policymakers and voters here could be a worthwhile investment.

The campaigns of California presidential contenders Sen. Kamala Harris and hedge fund manager Tom Steyer have not yet responded when asked their position on the bill. Neither have the campaigns for Sanders, Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Dan Morain contributed to this story.

This article is produced as part of WeHo Daily’s partnership with CalMatters, a nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters.

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RAGE is Latest Venue to Fall Victim to the Pandemic

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Another LGBTQ+ Nightlife Destination Has Fallen Victim to the Pandemic

WEST HOLLYWOOD (L.A. Magazine) — Rage nightclub has been a destination for LGBTQ+ nightlife in the bustling Santa Monica Boulevard corridor of West Hollywood for decades. Now, nearly 40 years after first opening its doors, the club has announced it has permanently closed, yet another local business to collapse amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rage nightclub management lays some portion of the blame on their landlord, Monte Overstreet. The club’s now-former general manager, Ron Madrill, told Q Voice News that rent for the location was already “very high” prior to operations shutting down in March. He says he believes an impasse over rent payments may have contributed to Rage’s closure.

Overstreet also reportedly owns the space formerly occupied by neighboring bar Flaming Saddles Saloon, which also announced […]

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21 Workers Test Positive for Coronavirus at Rock n Roll Ralphs

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Workers protest outside Ralphs in Hollywood where 21 have tested positive for coronavirus

HOLLYWOOD (KTLA) — Workers rallied Friday outside a Ralphs store in Hollywood where 21 people have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The group called on the store to take more aggressive action when staff test positive for the virus, and to ramp up efforts to protect the grocery store employees, who are considered essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

They said they speak for thousands of workers who are afraid they aren’t getting enough protection as the virus continues to spread countywide, infecting more than 24,000 as of Friday.

The Ralphs at 7257 W. Sunset Blvd. has had an outbreak involving several workers who tested positive for the virus, according to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, which lists businesses and […]

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‘Stay Put, Order In’ and Dine With Friends on Zoom, Says Mayor

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WEST HOLLYWOOD — WeHo is home to some of the best restaurants in the world and our community members are used to gathering around restaurant tables and enjoying meals together. Now, there’s an opportunity to, instead, gather around kitchen tables at home and enjoy a meal (or many!) while supporting our local restaurants.

“One of the worst things about the Safer At Home directive is being disconnected from friends, neighbors, and the city around us,” said City of West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico. “Don’t be alone if you don’t have to be – take advantage of the technology out there and invite a friend to Zoom in for Ziti or share some Farfalle over FaceTime.”

Mealtime is a wonderful opportunity to connect with friends, family, and loved ones using virtual teleconferencing technology, while partaking in your favorite delivered or takeout food.

City Encourages Residents to Support Local Restaurants During Safer At Home Orders

Many West Hollywood restaurants remain open and are offering takeout, curbside, and delivery meals, which are sensitive to social distancing during the emergency. The City of West Hollywood and the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce have teamed up to offer a directory of “Stay Put, Order In” eateries in West Hollywood, which is accessible by visitingwww.weho.org/coronavirus (click the “Stay Put, Order In” link!) or www.wehochamber.com/dinein. This list is updated daily.

“We need to start hanging out together, and talking, and seeing each other again. So, why not plan to #WeHoDinnerConnect this week – maybe Saturday at 8 p.m.? Or Sunday at 7 p.m.? Or even just 15 minutes of screen-to-screen gossip,” said Mayor D’Amico. “And you don’t have to cook a thing… local restaurants have meals and menus tailored to take-away choices and they’re ready to send food over to your house or make arrangements for you to pick it up.”

If picking up food, remember to wear face coverings, which are required to enter essential businesses.

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