Publishers Quitting California

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

A soon-to-be-former editor for SB Nation writes, in "California's Terrible AB5 Came for Me Today, and I'm Devastated," of the following fallout from that state's evil and foolish decision to redefine the term "employee" (and sloppily at that):

Gig workers: If he has his way, you will have to choose between unemployment or an employment arrangement of his choosing. (Image by Michael Vadon, via Wikimedia, license.)
For those who don't know, California's legislature recently passed a law, Assembly Bill 5, codifying a California Supreme Court decision that classifies many independent contractors as full-time employees. While there is a small carve-out in the statute that allows for paid writers or editors to continue to produce a very limited amount of content per company, it's not nearly enough, and it would be hard for me or most of my colleagues to fit in that small box.

So, SB Nation has chosen to do the easiest thing they can to comply with California law -- not work with California-based independent contractors, or any contractors elsewhere writing for California-based teams. I don't blame them at all.


This is a passion project for me. Personally, while the extra income helps my family, it doesn't break us to lose it. But I have literally HUNDREDS of amazing colleagues all across our network who DO rely on this money to help, and who are going to have to replace that income somewhere else, somehow. That sucks. So much. I am heartbroken that the state I love so much has forced a company I love working for to cut formal ties with people who are doing amazing work -- and who are able to help themselves and their families with the extra income that a passion project or side hustle can sometimes provide.
One can hope that enough stories like the above -- and this one -- come out that California's legislature and governor come to their senses and repeal this economy- and freedom- destroying law. (But, for the same reason I suspect this sloppiness is a feature (and not a bug), I regard this as extremely unlikely.) Or, more likely, these stories can help build popular momentum for a repeal by ballot referendum next year.

It is worth noting that in the lead-in to this bill's passage, at least four of the Democratic candidates for president voiced support for this bill: Bernie Sanders (who has introduced similar national legislation), Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris. The first three remain in the race.

Writers -- many of whom are freelancers -- are the canary in the coal mine, but this horrific law is poised to ruin livelihoods for many others, and not just within the "gig economy."

-- CAV

No comments: