New California Labor Law Has Made Freelancing Nearly Impossible
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New California Labor Law Has Made Freelancing Nearly Impossible

A new labor law has taken effect in California
that will forever change the gig economy. The bill was designed to give wage protections
and benefits to gig workers, but instead the bill has resulted in layoffs and controversy. RTs Brigida Santos joins me now with the story. So Brigida, why is Assembly Bill 5 so controversial? I mean, after all, this is something you know,
we had wanted for a long time, protect gig economy workers, but it seems to not be doing
that. So tell us what’s happening with this. Farron, this is controversial because it wasn’t
well thought out and had almost no input from the public before going into effect. Assembly Bill 5 changes the classification
of independent contractors to employees. The point of the bill is to force ride share
companies like Uber and Lyft to pay their workers benefits and overtime. That all sounds good, right? But under the new law, all workers are required
to operate as businesses or be hired as full time employees. The latter not being so easy. Freelancing is basically no longer possible. Now there are some workers who could be exempt
if they meet the strict requirements to maintain an independent contractor status in the state. Exemptions include those for workers in professions
like medicine, architecture, engineering, accounting and real estate to name a few. A federal judge has also temporarily exempted
truck drivers from the law, but we don’t know if that’s going to stick. We are all for workers’ rights, but as a result
of this new law, we’re already seeing companies lay off freelance workers instead of hiring
them on as full time employees. Plus the companies that this law sought to
reform Uber, Lyft and Postmates are refusing to comply and lobbying against the bill. Uber has even reportedly started developing
new app features specifically for California drivers to help the company create ways to
make sure that its drivers can be included on that exemption list. So you mentioned that freelancers have been
losing jobs. So what kind of freelancers are out there
that have lost jobs because of this bill? So many. Now just before the holidays, hundreds of
freelancers were cut from their jobs as companies prepared for this bill to roll out and now
that it’s actually in effect, we can expect more cuts this year. Vox media, for example, has fired it’s California
based freelance writers because under the new law, the company would be forced to classify
people whom submit more than 35 articles every year as full time employees with benefits. The law has also effected other non-union
freelancers in the state, including photographers, independent actors and musicians. Those are all industries that are booming
right here in Los Angeles where I live. The music blogger and author, Ari Herstand,
recently published an article on his website Ari’s Take stating, if you want to hire a
bass player to play one gig for $100 you have to put that bassist on payroll, pay unemployment
taxes, provide benefits, get workers’ compensation, insurance, deduct taxes, work with a payroll
company and W2 that bassist as they will now legally be designated your employee. He says that as a result, musicians and music
producers will lose their jobs and gigs unless they set themselves up as a corporation and
pay yearly fees and payroll taxes to keep the corporation running. So, the big question is, who actually wrote
this bill that seems like it’s such a disaster? Are they doing anything to revise it now that
it’s received so much backlash? The bill was drafted by democratic assembly
woman, Lorena Gonzalez. Despite the backlash, she says she stands
by it. Now, this is problematic because out of 57
million gig workers in California last year in 2019, 46% said that they chose freelance
work because they were unable to work for traditional employers due to personal circumstances,
including disabilities, age or health. AB 5 has now established the strictest test
in America, which workers must be considered employees, and it sets a dangerous precedent
for other States. You know, we don’t have strong unions in America
anymore, and without those fighting for the rights of workers, we can really see the death
of freelancing pretty soon. You know, it, it, it’s really sad. I, I’ve done a lot of freelancing in, in my
time writing for various websites, different magazines, and it’s been very helpful. And yes, I would have lost those jobs, had
those organizations at the time had to hire me on as a full time person. They simply could not afford it. And so that’s why when you’re talking about
some of these freelancers, yes, Uber and Lyft drivers have been getting screwed. They’ve been getting the raw end of the deal
on this for years and years and years. But there’s others for whom freelancing works
tremendously. This is what they want. This fits in with their lifestyle a little
bit better, allows them that freedom. And unfortunately, this piece of legislation
with the way it was written is having a huge impact on all sorts of media. As you pointed out, musicians are facing trouble
now. Actors are facing trouble. So Brigida Santos, thank you very much for
telling us this story today. Thanks Farron.


  • Kylem

    What did you think corporations would protect anyone nah they will just fire everyone lol have to force corporations to do anything.

  • Dusty Plasma

    Good luck with that law. All value is perceived. If my talent is what you need or desire, offer me something of value TO ME. When the CME takes out the ATMs and SHTF, talent, not dollars, becomes priceless. You will become a Minstrel. You are going to need to take up an instrument and learn to play while you rap the news. You get free room and board in every town you visit BY LAW. However, if it’s bad news like taxes going up your board may be a cold shoulder of lamb. Hence the term … given the cold shoulder. Lawful. Not necessarily friendly. Ain’t English Grand.

  • Just Another Old Guy

    This is way off on the facts, history and intent of this bill.

    First, it simply reinforced a California Supreme Court decision.

    Second, employers have been getting away for decades with not providing their workers with basic benefits and protections like workplace safety laws, Social Security payments, unemployment insurance, OSHA protection, minimum wage laws and more, along with their rights to unionize. By falsely categorizing workers as independent contractors, businesses have increased their profits while denying workers their basic rights.

    This ‘gig’ economy was quickly becoming a new corporate standard. They could make lots more money while placing the financial burden of on their workers. If a business cannot afford to treat and pay its employers according to the law, then that business is not viable.

  • Zid96

    I was allway 50/50 on this one. It sounds good in theorie. Force companies like uber and Lyft too pay there people. But screws over small group. It needed fixed up and didn't get it.

    Like if the contractor makes over say a million$ or has 20 real employees that count. But use dozens of freelances. Na pay up

    Exempt like a wedding musician guy. Who is like 1 person and may do a few a year. That ok

  • sk8queen

    I knew yall would keep complaining until gigging was ruined. Its a GIG. NOT a permanent job. You dont get the same wages, benefits, or other perks as a real job. I liked Lyft and Uber because I could start work and stop as I pleased. No company is going to do that. I didnt want Lyft and Uber to be like my regular job.

  • Avrysatos

    My friend lost all her contracts. She was writing articles for several different websites and starting with the new year she was out of a job. So fuck whoever decided this was okay. I hope they lose their jobs too.

  • Rivkah Song

    So hundreds of thousands of self-employed people are going to lose their livelihoods. Musicians, artists, programmers, home contractors, landscapers, dog walkers, truckers, repairmen, designers, dancers, actors, writers, cake designers, tutors, graphic designers, editors, consultants, photographers, translators, transcribers, personal trainers, and many many more are about to have their careers destroyed. What the fuck California?! This law is needed for things like Uber or the gaming industry but this law is poorly constructed and worded. It needs immediate amendments.

  • Ava Barker

    I’m pro union, but his bill misses the mark entirely! It was ill conceived and poorly executed.
    And I must go on the record to say that I do not feel even a little bit sorry for rideshare drivers! They moved in and negatively impacted the livelihood of UNIONIZED taxi drivers, and now they’re whining about being freelancers??? GIVE ME A BREAK!!!

  • Jay maxwell

    Yet companies have also been offering more full time positions which was the entire point. Where did you get your info from, Tim pool?

  • Nikk Faith

    Good intention but a badly written bill has horrible consequences. Companies will work around the clock to avoid paying their employees a living wage & benefits.

  • mrbob459

    This law was clearly written BY insurance companies FOR insurance companies to force liability and workman's comp policies to be sold. The entire industry is immoral, not just the health portion of it.

  • Daniel Sugar

    How is this going to affect sports coaches and officials? In most of the country, these people are considered as independent contractors, also known as "freelancers."

  • Viriathus Shepherd-Dux

    I hate when California does something that even I think validates the criticisms of free market fundamentalists and conservatives

  • Katie Adams

    This bill is the same deal as the $15/hr min wage. At first businesses had a hard time adapting, but eventually they figured it out and people benefited. Eventually the good companies will survive and their employees will benefit and the bad companies will fail.

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