Newspaper Appeal for Legislative Help and Why Such Appeal Would Fall on Deaf Ears if Amendment 1 Passes

Written by John Lopez

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.

Here’s a newspaper editorial one does not read everyday, especially from a 190-years-old newspaper like the Star-Ledger, the largest newspaper in the state of New Jersey.

The opening lines tells the story this is not your everyday publication by a major newspaper editorial board:

This editorial is that rare piece that presents an unavoidable conflict of interest for us, since we in the dwindling press corps are not the observers this time; we are one of the players. But please, hear us out.

Because for local newspapers, this could be a matter of life and death. And for larger papers, like the Star-Ledger, the risk is further reductions in the already depleted coverage of local towns and school districts. Does any sane person believe that calling off the watchdogs would be good for New Jersey?

This fresh blow to newspapers — and our democracy — must be stopped | Editorial“, Star-Ledger, October 2, 2022

The editorial published on the first Sunday of October expressed much Illinois Family Action has been publishing in the previous 7 articles concerning Amendment 1, and why voting “NO” goes beyond taxes the organized opposition stresses, but it’s about freedom!

The Freedom of the Press is a 1st Amendment guaranteed right, and the freedom to deliver that news, as the editorial documented, is clearly at risk with Worker Classification laws in New Jersey including the use of the “ABC test”.

From Sunday’s editorial, with emphasis added:

“Understand, this is not a simple story about heroes and villains.  Many contract workers are happy to be independent players.  And it’s impossible to draw a bright line between contractors and employees that fits every circumstance.  Gray areas abound.

“For example, New Jersey relies on a three-part “ABC test” that makes no allowance for the number of hours worked, and that’s plainly ridiculous.  It seems obvious that a full-time worker has a stronger claim to employee status than someone who works five hours a week.”

The October 2 editorial was not the starting point, and the history building up to the Star-Ledger‘s plea for help from Trenton from the New Jersey Legislature could very well be the future for many industries in Illinois if Amendment 1 passes.

Reminder New Jersey legislative elections are held in odd-numbered years, and none of the representatives, or the governor, are on the ballot on November 8 in the Garden State.

Before proceeding further, in my first article published on Illinois Family Action opposing Amendment 1, here was the three-fold reason given:

It is the honest opinion of the author of this response Amendment 1 should not pass for the following reasons:

  • Current Illinois law already guarantees the freedoms the proponents say are needed through passage of Amendment 1
  • The proponents present their case focusing heavily on labor unions and not the workers across Illinois or the changing economy for workers choices and entrepreneurships which no longer need representation through a labor union
  • With the current organized labor movement within Illinois, other states and within the current Administration and the United States Congress, the risks for all workers under the current Amendment outweigh the benefits proponents claim

All of the articles published on Illinois Family Action proved all three bulletpoints true, and the Star-Ledger editorial offers more proof, including what is needed, also published on August 29:

“Finally, all workers freedoms can be protected through a holistic approach to reforming current labor law at the national level and within the state of Illinois without the need for a constitutional amendment.  As witnessed at the Port of Oakland in July where 1099 independent contractors and rank-and-file union members stood side-by-side, so can all stakeholders work respectfully together to build the long-term solution to ensure workers rights, while protecting the American workers’ freedoms within and outside of a labor union.”

The above is not one independent contractor’s idea from Algonquin, IL, but is shared by mainstream voters across the country, and applying Scripture, it’s long passed time to:

“Come now, let us reason together, saith the LORD” — Isaiah 1:18a (KJV) 

Kim Kavin

For a New Jersey perspective on what is happening in New Jersey, and how it relates to the California AB5 law and Worker Classification, the 16-part tweet issued by Freelancers USA co-leader and New Jersey-based freelancer Kim Kavin on October 3 will be used.

The tweets are transcribed from Twitter-speak for ease of reading:

“The Star-Ledger editorial page editor called me Sept. 21 while researching this piece.  I spent 36 minutes explaining how the LAST THING New Jersey needs is to follow California’s lead, with overreaching labor laws and one-by-one industry exemptions.

“Clearly, he failed to see the clear point that all of us at Freelancers USA have been making since we dominated a public hearing in Trenton in 2019, explaining to lawmakers how anti-independent contractor laws cripple us in HUNDREDS of professions.

“So, let me explain. Yet again.

“What’s happening right now in New Jersey is the same thing that happened with California’s anti-independent contractor law AB5, only here in NJ, it’s happening in reverse.

“Out on the West Coast, they passed the anti-IC law and then…had a free-for-all with exemptions for certain industries considered politically favorable.

“It was such a mess that less than a year later, the CA Legislature had to enact an emergency measure, ultimately exempting more than 100 professions.”

The “emergency measure” Kavin describes was CA’s Assembly Bill 2257, signed by Governor Gavin Newsom (D) in September of 2020, with some colorful language from the governor shared with POLITICO by former San Francisco Mayor (and former Assembly Speaker) Willie Brown (D).

Continuing Freelancers USA’s Kavin’s explanation from Monday, October 3.

“California voters then stepped in, also within that same year, and exempted even more professions.”

The California voters stepped in with the approval of Proposition 22 in the November election of 2020, covered in a previous article, Prop 22 passed overwhelmingly, but was declared unconstitutional in August of 2021.

More from Kavin:

“All while study after study continued to show that these anti-independent contractor laws go against the will of most people they claim to ‘protect.’

“Meanwhile, here in New Jersey, we helped to kill the AB5 copycat bill (NJ S4204) in early 2020.  Cooler heads prevailed, led by moderate Democrats in Trenton to whom we are forever grateful for not outlawing our chosen careers.

“Since then, the battlefield has shifted from states to Washington, D.C., because the Democrats won Congress and the White House, and President Biden ran on a plan to make California’s anti-contractor language the basis of all labor, employment and tax law.”

Not only did then-candidate Biden run to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act in 2020, he also openly opposed Proposition 22 in the fall of 2020 in California and applauded the controversial AB5 law.

Kavin continues, citing the work of Freelancers USA submitting amicus briefs to Washington in 2022:

“While we’ve all been dealing with U.S. Supreme Court amicus briefs and testimony before the U.S. Department of Labor, lobbyists in New Jersey have been trying to get individual-industry bills passed as preemptive statewide exemptions, in case the fight comes back here next.

“These industries’ goal:  To have California-style exemptions firmly in place if the Republicans take back Congress, which is when this labor fight will likely return to the states, and another absolutely insane anti-independent contractor bill will probably come up in Trenton.

“The real-estate industry got its personalized law protecting independent contractor status here in New Jersey when Governor Phil Murphy (D) signed it in January 2022.

“The golf industry tried to get one of these personalized exemption laws too, but we made a racket and embarrassed Trenton lawmakers for prioritizing golf caddies over hundreds of other professions.

“That bill, Murphy didn’t sign.

“What Trenton (and U.S.!) lawmakers need to do now is reject this failed, piecemeal Calif. approach and instead make sure that our independent contractor regulations are reasonable for every New Jersey industry in the first place.

“Put another way: Stop playing favorites.

“Of course, like the Star-Ledger, we want to see newspapers survive, and everyone from freelance carriers to writers thrive.”

Now Kavin brings home the mainstream and shared view for the holisitic solution in the context of New Jersey:

“But we can achieve that goal through reasonable regulations that ALSO PROTECT traveling nurses, graphic artists and all kinds of other contractors.

“There is a bill in Trenton that would do exactly that, sponsored by state Senators Michael Testa (R) and Holly Schepisi (R).

“This is the bill that would protect EVERY LEGITIMATE INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR IN EVERY INDUSTRY, all across the state, no matter what happens next.

“This is the bill the Star-Ledger should support.  The problem is a hell of a lot bigger than the newspaper industry, and it needs a solution a hell of a lot more thoughtful than a repeat of the debacle California is still trying to sort out three years on.

“Fight for Freelancers

“We are begging you, NJ state Senate President Nicholas Scutari (D) and state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D), to end this insanity in New Jersey once and for all.  We need legislative guardrails firmly in place to protect all legitimate independent contractors in all professions from these attacks on our livelihoods.”

While the holisitic approach for New Jersey should be the model for Illinois in the legislation cited above, if Amendment 1 is passed in November, such a reform would not be possible.

As seen with proponents for CA’s AB5 and the PRO Act, “what’s best for union bosses” pushing the radical approach to labor law since President Biden came to office.  With a staunchly pro-union secretary of the Department of Labor in Marty Walsh, as well as a union-favoring National Labor Relations Board, the left trying to stop workers from working as independent contractors under the false flag the bulk of 1099s are misclassified.

The mechanism unions will push will be Worker Classification with the ABC test, already proven unfair to legitimate independent contractors working with law-abiding clients in both the public and private sectors in California.

And as evidenced by the Star-Ledger editorial from October 2, threatens to kill newspapers and local journalism coverage in New Jersey, and will follow other states where union bosses have a stranglehold on the levers of power.

“Come now, let us reason together, saith the LORD” — Isaiah 1:18a (KJV) 

While there are always bad actors, the vast majority of the estimated 59 million independent contractors, according to Upwork, represent 36% of the total work force, while union members represent 10.3%, according to Pew Research.

Highlights of Freelancing/Independent Contracting from Edelman Intelligence

Any move for common sense reform a court recognizes curtailing the collective bargaining power of unions, with a Constitution amended with the language of Amendment 1, would be thrown out in any state court.

The unions want to see their membership rise, and with the record of AB5 and the language of the stalled PRO Act, the union bosses think their goal will be accomplished to grow union membership at the cost of all legitimate independent contractors working with legitimate law-abiding clients, in both the private sector and the public sector.

Best way to stop real insanity for all of Illinois proactively, before it starts, is to defeat Amendment 1 at the ballot box with a “NO” vote.

If the Amendment 1 proponents win, then as the Star-Ledger editorialized about itself, it could be financial life-and-death for many Illinoisans to work in their home state.

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