Kevin Kiley's Opening Remarks Offer Hope and a Warning to America

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

On Wednesday, the Workforce Protections Subcommittee chaired by Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-CA) held its first hearing that explores the benefits of the independent contractor model on the American economy, as well as the negative impacts that the Biden administration’s policies have been having on independent professionals and the freelance economy. As a former California Assemblyman, Kiley was a firsthand witness to the damage that AB5, the so-called gig workers law, did to California’s independent contractor community and to the state economy, as The San Francisco Chronicle reported:


California’s long-running fight over the status of gig workers is going national this week.

One California House Republican who as a state lawmaker led the fight against AB5, the state law that limits when employers can classify workers as independent contractors, will hold a hearing Wednesday to decry the law and efforts to implement similar rules at the federal level. That will take place a day before former California Labor Secretary Julie Su appears before a Senate committee that will decide if she will lead President Biden’s Labor Department.

This hearing, and Julie Su‘s possible attainment of the Secretary of Labor role, is of national, and in many ways, international consequence. Yet, only a media blog and the San Francisco Chronicle considered it important enough to cover. It reflects the priorities of the legacy media, and their interference and cover for Biden and his agenda.

Workforce Protections Subcommittee Chairman Kiley’s opening remarks were a warning, as well as a glimmer of hope; in particular, hope for the California community of independent professionals, small business owners, and the self-employed who were the unwilling crash-test dummies for AB5.

Kiley did indeed set the tone, laid the groundwork, and lobbed a salvo at the Biden administration. His remarks made it known that the committee will not allow what was done in California through AB5 to spread like a cancer nationally—not on their watch.


Today’s hearing is about the Right to Earn a Living: the right to practice your profession and pursue your calling; to be a maker, a builder, a creator; to take your God-given talents, nurture them with heart and soul, and offer them to the world.

In a free society, few rights are more fundamental – or more essential to a dynamic and prosperous economy.

Yet at this moment, that right is in peril. The current Administration has launched a multi-pronged assault on the right to earn a living in America. It is a concerted strategy designed to limit or eliminate the gig economy, freelancing, independent contracting, self-employment – alternate work arrangements that entire careers are based on and entire industries have been built around.

While attacks on the independent contractor model have occurred in other administrations, the Biden administration has made it their personal mission to see the model destroyed. The Spectator made this plain in their coverage of the March 10 ruling by the California First District Court of Appeals upholding the ballot initiative Prop. 22 which granted an exemption from AB5 to app drivers.

Note how eagerly the union-allied Biden administration has tried, largely via regulatory fiat, to impose that “ABC Test” at the federal level. Progressives claim that businesses are “misclassifying” workers, and they want to force businesses to hire workers as employees, thus making them eligible for various benefits and subject to state labor laws.

This obviously poses an existential threat to emerging app-based companies that rely on a contractor model, but it also posed an entirely predictable threat to many traditional professions where workers eschew the 9–5 cubicle or factory floor work model. When the Legislature codified Dynamex via Assembly Bill 5, which went into effect in January 2020, it exempted many industries — primarily those with the most influential lobbies.


And so it continues, as the United States Department of Labor attempts to rewrite the independent contractor and election protection rules, with right-to-work states like Texas, Georgia, Indiana, Florida, Nevada, and Idaho, along with 21 other states in the union in their crosshairs.

Nevertheless, economic destruction ensued. Companies eliminated jobs rather than hire people as salaried employees. Publications — including Vox, which ran a piece championing AB 5 — laid off its California stringers. Musical groups that relied on gig workers had to shutter their operations. All types of freelance workers — from photographers to sign-language interpreters to rabbis — suddenly found themselves in a pickle.

California, a state of 39 million people, started the chain reaction of shedding not only their taxpayer base, but their creative talent, entrepreneurs, and major corporations. Elon Musk, one of the state’s best and brightest business persons, moved his headquarter operations for Tesla and SpaceX to Texas. For at least the past four years, more than 100 other corporations have followed suit. Kiley saw all this in real time, and made it clear that this is what the Biden administration has planned for every state should his agenda succeed.

The livelihoods of millions of Americans are at risk. Today, we will examine the devastating consequences of this anti-worker agenda.

Those consequences are not a matter of speculation. They are already an established reality – a bitter, unfair, unnecessary reality – for many residents of my own state. You see, in California, the war on independent workers has been underway for years.

The Biden Administration is simply following the model of Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Legislature.


In its current condition, California is the last place that should be a bellwether for political change in America. Yet that is exactly how President Biden seems to see it, as his Administration attempts to nationalize California’s most damaging policies, exporting our state’s failures to every state in the union.


On top of the U.S. Department of Labor rule changes, the PRO Act still languishes in the Senate, waiting for the new Secretary of Labor to advocate for its passage.

Fortunately, the PRO Act, the national legislation inspired by AB 5, has not become law. Yet the Biden Administration has now opened another front in the war on independent contractors to achieve the same goal. A proposed rule at the Department of Labor would implement the core elements of AB 5 without so much as a vote of Congress. In other words, in a matter of months the Biden Administration is planning to nationalize AB 5 all on its own.

And to aggressively enforce the new regime, Biden has selected a new Secretary of Labor. This is the final front: the nomination of AB 5’s architect and lead enforcer, former California Labor Secretary Julie Su, to the highest Labor position in America. It is a direct and literal transfer of California failures to Washington.

When Biden announced Julie Su’s nomination on March 1, Kiley was the first to step into the fray, not just posturing to decry the nomination, but to take action to see her removed from the running, as I reported.

On March 1, after President Joe Biden made the announcement that he was nominating Deputy Secretary of Labor Julie Su to replace outgoing Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, California Congressman Kevin Kiley launched into action. As the new Chair of the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, Kiley now had the platform to make a difference. As a former California Assemblyman who had firsthand knowledge of Su’s record as Secretary of California’s Workforce Development Agency—the Employment Development Division, Kiley also had the receipts that prove that Su is a horrible choice for Secretary of Labor. Her malevolence against small businesses, independent professionals, and workers is documented here, and here. Su’s incompetence rivals that of Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.


Kiley’s continued fight alongside independent professionals, business and advocacy organizations has been effective. Leading up to Su’s confirmation hearing on Thursday, senators like Joe Manchin have expressed concern over allowing this nomination to go forward.

Tellingly, with Su’s confirmation for U.S. Secretary of Labor now faltering, her backers are making a last-ditch attempt to save her nomination by absurdly trying to dissociate her from AB 5. None other than the author of AB 5, a major Su backer who now leads the California Labor Federation, just told the LA Times that Su ‘was not involved with the bill at all.’

This would be the egregious Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, who has problems of her own, not only with AB5 failing spectacularly, but with a cheating and corrupt spouse who still serves as the San Diego District 4 Board of Supervisor, while facing down sexual harassment charges and spending time in rehab. Gonzalez-Fletcher’s day of reckoning appears to be occurring, while Julie Su’s is yet to begin. In less than 24 hours she faces her first Senate hearing, and this Workforce Protections Subcommittee hearing is the perfect introduction to her manipulative, inept, and damaging handiwork.

Kiley was wise to point out the deceptiveness of these tactics to separate Su from her close association with AB5, using Su’s own words against her.

Yet Su, in her own words, described in detail her plans for enforcing AB 5 as California Labor Secretary: “We will be doing investigations and audits,” she said, threatening fines and penalties, “so that those who want to comply with the need to reclassify can do so and those who don’t will understand that’s not the kind of economy we want in California.”

Not the kind of economy we want in California: Julie Su didn’t want an economy in California where you can pursue your calling, support your family on your own terms, and thrive. She doesn’t want this for America, either. That’s why Joe Biden has selected her for Labor Secretary: to wage his war on independent contractors.


And herein lies the warning to all Americans, especially those in states where your economic and vocational freedoms have not been restricted. Take Rep. Kiley’s words, and this campaign of the Biden administration seriously. There should be protests outside Capitol Hill, not only opposing Julie Su, but calling out the evil agenda at work to destroy American livelihoods and the American economy. There should also be letters, emails, and media appearances by fellow lawmakers, chambers of commerce, and advocacy organizations expressing support for this committee and their commitment to protect American’s freedom to live and work as they choose, and provide for themselves and their families in the ways they see fit.

Our committee has a very different vision for the American workforce. We believe in promoting work and supporting workers. We believe independent contractors are critical to the 21st century economy. We will protect the freedom of Americans to earn a living as they choose and will fight every effort to take that right away.

You can find Kiley’s full opening statement, as well as hearing testimony here.



Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on RedState Videos