The Los Angeles Urban League and other leading members of California’s African American and Latino communities issued a four-page letter to Governor Gavin Newsom today to highlight concerns about the state’s targeting of the gig-economy in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
As the letter states:
Here are the facts: The coronavirus pandemic is impacting Black and Hispanic communities at a devastatingly disproportionate rate. Infection and death rates are as much as 50% higher for Black and Hispanic Americans. Unemployment among Blacks and Hispanics stands at 15.8% and 14.7%, respectively, and now exceeds 30% among young people of color. More than 40% of Black businesses and a third of Hispanic businesses have closed since the pandemic began, most of them permanently. Without immediate, focused action by state and federal leaders, COVID-19 will condemn millions of Black and Brown American families to poverty for generations to come.
It is unconscionable for the State of California to wage a political war on the gig-economy in the middle of this crisis. Thousands of small businesses were forced to close or lay off workers because of a controversial law you signed aimed at forcing companies to restrict the use of independent contractors. While the law may have been well-intentioned, thousands of Black businesses are being crushed by the twin catastrophes of AB5 and COVID-19. And now your Administration is attempting to shut down the gig-economy platforms that you yourself declared to be providing essential services, critical to health and safety, during a national crisis.
The letter then goes on to list six specific provisions that the groups support. These six priorities include:
Flexible, portable benefits for independent workers
Job training, re-skilling, apprenticeship funding
Business-Labor Industry Council
Community Financial Institutions
Worker Rights / Recognition of Gig-Economy Workers
The letter concluded by saying: You have an historic opportunity to help communities of color rebuild from this disaster and in doing so create a strong, new safety net for all Californians and a model for the nation. African Americans have the strength to lift ourselves up and rebuild from COVID-19. We urge you to use the power of your office to give us the tools to do so.
A copy of this letter will accompany this press release.