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Lorena Gonzalez resigns from Assembly, returns to labor roots

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez rallies workers for the passage of Assembly Bill 5 she authored that would limit when businesses and companies could classify employees as independent contractors, Aug. 29, 2019.
Nicholas McVicker
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez rallies workers for the passage of Assembly Bill 5 she authored that would limit when businesses and companies could classify employees as independent contractors, Aug. 29, 2019.

On Monday, San Diego lawmaker Lorena Gonzalez announced her resignation from the California Assembly to lead the California Labor Federation.

Her last day in office will be Wednesday, Jan. 5.

The move is a return to the labor movement for Gonzalez. Before being elected to the Assembly to represent the 80th District, she was the CEO and Secretary-Treasurer for the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

The Democratic lawmaker made the announcement during Monday afternoon’s floor session. She told colleagues she is looking forward to continuing her work for the working people of California after eight years in office.

"As a legislator and as a labor leader, my top priority has been to create opportunities that lead to more jobs, better jobs and better lives for working people," Gonzalez said. "It's been an honor to serve the people of San Diego County and the entire state as a lawmaker who tried to accomplish the most amount of good for the most amount of people."

Gonzalez was first elected to the Assembly in 2013 following a special election. Among her legislative achievements include bills that allowed part-time employees to earn sick leave, overtime pay for farm workers and labor protection for professional cheerleaders.

She also received backlash for some of her policies, including AB 5, which reclassified many gig workers as employees rather than independent contractors. The bill led to ride-sharing companies funding Proposition 22, which exempted companies such as Lyft and Uber from classifying drivers as employees.

"We've done a lot. But, the most direct way we can truly improve the lives of Californians is to empower them at work," Gonzalez said in a statement. "No law is ever as powerful as a union contract. It's in that spirit that I'm continuing my service to strengthen the Labor Movement in our Golden State."

Gonzalez is expected to succeed Art Pulaski, the Federation’s longtime leader who is retiring in July.