Lauren Gonzalez Worked on the first day of her new job As one of the California Giants on Monday, which is great for her but bad for Sacramento.
The former San Diego councilwoman, who resigned her seat last week, was one of the assembly’s most — if not the The most – effective California legislators in the last decade. She was also more intriguing, more courageous, and yes, more profane and fighting spirit than many of her legislature peers. Gonzalez added intrigue to the gloomy momentum of the sausage-making at the Capitol.
The 50-year-old former Stanford cheerleader, the daughter of a nurse and a farm worker, left the legislature to become the leader of the California Labor Union, a coalition of 1,200 unions representing nearly two million workers. She formally assumed the position of outgoing Executive Secretary, Art Polaki, in July, but is already working for the organization she will soon lead.
Gonzalez has compiled an impressive track record of legislation, from securing overtime for farm workers to changing how California classifies independent contractors. She fought for women and immigrants. She wasn’t afraid and didn’t care what people thought of her.
Gonzalez takes on one of the most famous jobs in the labor movement. Being the child of a single mother, cancer survivor, mother, and Latino mother, her rise as a political force is an overwhelming success by all accounts.
But Gonzalez’s exit from the legislature is an unfortunate loss for a society dominated by all the people who don’t speak for themselves and who work under the dome on L Street. Even when Gonzalez went too far and directed Tesla founder Elon Musk on Twitter for defying public health orders, her anger came from a good place.
“California has provided huge support to a company that has long disregarded worker safety and welfare, and engaged in union-busting and intimidation of public employees,” Gonzalez tweeted after settling for Musk’s bombshell.
It was Gonzalez who stood up to powerful agricultural interests to secure farmworkers overtime in 2016. It was Gonzalez who nearly secured farm workers’ organizing rights by allowing them to vote in union elections from home—rights enjoyed by many other workers— Even the bill I participated in. – Was rejected by Newsom. And it was Gonzalez who publicly rocked and mutilated ride-sharing giants Uber and Lyft for denying workers rights.
Did it cost her to be tough and politically impulsive? You bet on it. Gonzalez wanted to be California’s Secretary of State, but Newsom had other ideas, appointing former Assemblywoman Shirley Webber to the position when it became vacant. Gonzalez also had the flocks to be the president of the association—but not the support she would need from her fellow legislators.
If Gonzalez was a man, would there have been a chance to keep her in Sacramento? What if her name wasn’t Gonzalez? We’ll never know, and it’s not like there’s a desire to deal with these kinds of questions in Sacramento.
For her part, Gonzalez is looking forward to the next challenge, which focuses on what is and what could be — not what could be.
“I was facing my own death last year,” she said after undergoing a bilateral mastectomy.
Will you miss being a primary lawmaker in Sacramento?
“I love my constituents and will miss them,” she told me, “but there is a lot of crap in the legislature.” “It’s like middle school. I wouldn’t miss that.”
She’s right about the banality of Sacramento and all the performative “leaders” who care more about empty virtue than pointing out actual progress. Gonzalez was different, and because of that, we’ll miss her.
This story was originally published January 11, 2022 11:20 am.