California Gov. Gavin Newsom is facing a recall following his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The state has seen a recall before, and the labor community is once again speaking out.
The California Labor Federation is leading the charge in the statewide effort to help Newsom retain his position. California Labor Federation Communications Director Steve Smith discussed the recall on the AWF Union Podcast. He also discussed how workplace protections are changing in California, including protections for gig workers.
California Governor recall
Gov. Newsom has taken heat from state and federal Republicans for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Smith said this helped right wing efforts to recall Newsom and force an election.
He remembered the last recall, which saw the state elect Hollywood actor Arnold Schwarzenegger to the position. While serving for seven years, Schwarzenegger managed to shrink the amount of union jobs in the state.
Labor organizations throughout the state are working to shut down the recall attempt. Gov. Newsom has been good for workers, according to Smith. He shut down the state’s economy early and worked to ensure remaining workers had the proper protections.
Continued workplace protections
According to Smith, relaxing CDC COVID-19 safety regulations could pose a threat to people returning to work. There are still a large number of unvaccinated Americans, many of whom will not wear a mask and never get vaccinated.
Smith said the Labor Federation is following the advice of local medical professionals working on the front lines.
Protections for gig workers
Smith later discussed gig workers and how they have been the targets of legislative efforts in California. Gig companies such as Uber went on a well-funded attack with Proposition 22. The legislation offered a list of watered down benefits, while allowing the company to still consider the workers as independent contractors.
He said these workers are now being further exploited by. Some have even contacted the California Labor Federation with stories of being paid less than $2 for 15-mile trips.
Additionally, the legislation mandated some form of employer provided health insurance. However, only about 14 percent of California’s gig workers have seen any movement on healthcare.