Amendment 1 and Worker Classification, “Other states should become aware and alarmed by these non-progressive and regressive regulations”

Written by John Lopez

Creative artwork of AB5 from Lisa Rothstein, San Diego, CA

This article continues addressing a ballot measure that Illinois voters must vote on this election cycle.
We urge voters to reject Amendment 1, a constitutional amendment that
would elevate collective bargaining rights in the Illinois Constitution,
allowing government union contracts to override state law.

Thursday afternoon, the Daily Herald hosted a virtual debate including Shaw Media to discuss Amendment 1 and answer questions.  The topic of independent contractors came up, and Illinois Policy’s Mailee Smith discussed California’s attempt to unionize 1099 independent contractors under the AB5 law passed in 2019 and implemented at the beginning of 2020.

The full editorial board interview can be viewed here.

Expanding upon California’s AB5 law, this article will present civil rights leaders and how the AB5 law, and the ABC test for Worker Classification, affected California workers in general and people of color in particular.  Some of the language used by these leaders two years ago in the context of the California initiative known as Proposition 22 was on the November 2020 ballot.

The initiative was response to AB5, and sought an exemption from AB5 for independent contractors working for app-based companies, including Uber, Lyft, Doordash, Uber Eats, GrubHub, Instacart, etc.

The initiative passed by an overwhelming majority of California voters, at the same time Joe Biden won California over President Donald Trump.

California Proposition 22 Results AP


Civil Rights Leaders Spoke Out Against CA Worker Classification’s ABC Test

The issue of Workers Rights and CA AB5 law is the most vivid example of a Democrat supermajority in state government passing far left legislation and having significant negative impacts on its residents to the point that a significant number of self-described lifetime Democrats will be voted Republican in the general election of 2020.  Three congressional seats were flipped from Democrat to Republican, and along with a special election earlier in 2020 that was held, four congressional seats were flipped in California in 2020.

Prior to 2020, Republicans had not flipped a congressional seat in California since 1998.

California passed the AB5 worker classification law in 2019 and at the heart was the implementation of the Depression-era “ABC test” to classify workers as an “employee”.

The ABC test, Worker Classification and its relationship to Illinois’ Amendment 1 is covered in detail in this recent article.

The ABC test, originally established for factory workers which favors labor unions was included in AB5 and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2019 and went into effect at the start of 2020.

At the heart of opponents argument against AB5 is the use of the ABC test for employment, instead of the more modern and flexible IRS test, a 9-12 step test used in most professions for Worker Classification for tax status, including Illinois for workers outside of the construction industry.

AB5 in a big state like California and its devastating impacts on the California residents has already been passed in the U.S. House under the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act for the first time in early 2020.

This article will examine why civil rights leaders and organizations have branded AB5 “racist”, which means the PRO Act as passed in the House in March of 2021 is racist, too.  Just as in mathematics, something is true in another state or for the country, then any kind of Worker Classification robbing independent contractors’ tax status with the ABC test would be “racist” too, including Illinois with Amendment 1.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.

In August of 2020, an opinion piece was published in multiple online publications, including the Los Angeles Sentinel from Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.

Dr. Chavis is a hero’s hero of the civil rights movement who was an assistant to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s, the executive director of the NAACP in the 1990s and currently is the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the nation’s oldest and largest trade association of black-owned newspapers and media companies.

Dr. Chavis’ opinion piece, “Black Riders Matter”, discusses the California AB5 law.

Dr. Chavis states, with emphasis added:

“In the tradition of African American business development, many independent contractors in our communities subsequently become the proprietors of their own businesses.

“The point here is that today, across the state of California (and for seemingly counterproductive reasons), public policies, laws and regulations are being passed to prevent companies such as Lyft and Uber from having independent contractors drive and conduct related business across the state.

“This is another glaring example of good intentions causing bad consequences, specifically for Black Americans, Latinx Americans and other people of color who are trying to work as independent contractors on a legitimate path to becoming sustainable and profitable entrepreneurs.

“Systemic racism in America today has many varied and debilitating manifestations that keep a knee on the necks of people of color striving to achieve success, empowerment and lift themselves out of poverty.  In my view, the…California law, Assembly Bill 5, is unconstitutional and racist.  Other states should become aware and alarmed by these non-progressive and regressive regulations.”

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., “Black Riders Matter” published in Los Angeles Sentinel 8/27/20

Dr. Chavis in recent years has brought up how people of color need to “own”, not “rent” real estate/property and must embrace technology to maximize their potential.  Any impediment, including a Worker Classification test to remove anyone’s freedom like the ABC test the left in California implemented, are trying to implement in Washington, D.C. and a likely product of Amendment 1’s approval must be avoided.

Dr. Chavis is one man, and one person’s opinion does not a trend make, though the words “unconstitutional” and “racist” in his assessment of AB5 stand out.

Edwin A. Lombard III

In June of 2020, Edwin A. Lombard III, the president and CEO of the California Black Chamber of Commerce weighed in on AB5:

“Black lives, Black families and Black businesses have been devastated by the triple catastrophes of AB5, COVID-19, and the violent racism that permeates the very institutions we rely on to protect our freedom as Americans.

“How dare you [AB5 sponsor] use the shooting of civilians by police as a political weapon to defend your misguided and disastrous law that has robbed thousands of Californians of their right to earn a living with dignity, respect, and independence.

“The Black men and women who have chosen to work for themselves are not asking for your ‘protection’ from self-employment. We are not asking for your permission to earn a living as we choose, by starting a business for ourselves or control our own future as an independent contractor.

“We’re tired of paternalistic institutions that purport to ‘protect’ us while enabling, defending, and propagating the systemic racism that has cost so many Black lives.”

Statement from Edwin A. Lombard III published in Business Wire 6/9/20

Lombard’s blistering statement was directed at then-California Assemblywoman Lorena S. Gonzalez-Fletcher (D, San Diego), who sponsored AB5 in Sacramento.  Gonzalez is now a leader in the California Labor Federation of the AFL-CIO.

Mr. Lombard further points out that up to 1 million Californians in the gig economy could eventually be affected by AB5, and that does not count all independent contractors or freelancers in multiple professions.

Over four months later, Lombard opined again, with emphasis added:

“There is no way around it — California’s Assembly Bill 5 has been a disaster for our state.

“The so-called ‘gig economy’ legislation passed last year has been a short-sighted and dangerous attack on nearly 10 percent of our state’s workforce.  What’s worse, businesses continue to be attacked on all sides from attorneys looking to exploit the vague ‘ABC test.’

“And all this is peaking during the worst health crisis in a century, when millions of Californians remain jobless and small businesses are struggling to survive.

“Let’s break it down.

In a misguided effort to ‘protect’ more workers in the golden state, our legislature passed AB 5, disrupting the rapidly emerging gig economy by requiring employers to classify nearly all independent contractors as employees — eligible for all the benefits that coincide with that classification.

Edwin A. Lombard III, “Businesses need gig workers, lawsuit protection to stay afloat”, San Jose Spotlight, October 20, 2020

California Civil Rights Organizations Backed Proposition 22

In addition to Dr. Chavis and Mr. Lombard in late July of 2020, several civil rights organizations came out in favor of Proposition 22:

Among the organizations listed with officials signing this letter to state and congressional legislators from late July include:

  • California State NAACP
  • Si Se Puede Foundation
  • Black Women Organized for Political Action
  • California Black Chamber of Commerce
  • Love Lifts All
  • National Action Network

What has been witnessed with AB5 and the fact the Democratic Party wants to make AB5 the law of the land through the PRO Act and bring it to Illinois through Amendment 1 should frighten every freedom-loving American, no matter what political party one normally supports.

For full context, the scanned letter is included at the end of this article.


While Prop 22 won in November 2020 by nearly 59% of the popular vote, unions challenged the approved initiative, and in August of 2021, a California court ruled the initiative unconstitutional.

The initiative remains in place through the end of September of 2022, due to the the continuing legal challenges which are expecte to take place for at least two more years.

As for Illinois’ Amendment 1, the warnings from civil rights leaders if, as proponents counsel Marc Poulos told the Chicago Tribune on September 25, can cast a wide net and apply it to Illinois’ 1099 independent contractors if it’s approved, will have similar detrimental harm in Illinois.

No one could have predicted the unintended consequences of AB5 when it was signed into law in California three years ago.

If a similar law is implemented in Illinois, along with a constitutional amendment where only “employees” are eligible to be covered, the risk to many Illinoisans could be the loss of their chosen livelihood, which could be catastrophic for some Illinoisans.

For these reasons, a “NO” vote is the best recommended court-of-action on Amendment 1.

Note from John Lopez:  The Illinois Economic Policy Institute tweeted a reply to me labeling my linkage of Amendment 1 to Worker Classification as “Misinformation”.  After support from friends and fellow freelancers, the ILEPI deleted their tweet, but enough people saw it, and moving forward, I will be screen capturing all hostile tweets on this topic.

John Lopez has written about policy and elections through the McHenry County Blog since 2019 through July 2021.  He is now semi-retired, and does freelance work with analytics, as well as political candidates, emphasizing policy as the means to advance the conservative message, by engaging through policy “dog fighting”, applying discernment for winning and advancing God’s Kingdom agenda.

John’s known for getting past the talking points, the narratives, the abstracts, the platitudes and the bromides in order to discuss policy and apply Scripture to overcome unholy divisions in the local community, our state, and nation.  John has been married for over 17 years.

Follow John on Twitter: @MarcVAvelar