Home>Articles>Assemblywoman Gonzalez, Other Lawmakers Begin To Rethink Certain Parts of AB 5

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Assemblywoman Gonzalez, Other Lawmakers Begin To Rethink Certain Parts of AB 5

Concerns about limiting the press and public backlash over AB 5 leave some lawmakers questioning some parts of the bill

By Evan Symon, December 27, 2019 5:20 pm

With the independent contractor limiting bill AB 5 about to become law January 1st, many lawmakers and politicians who initially supported the bill are now beginning to question either all or certain parts of it.

Freelance press limitations

With thousands of jobs already lost to the bill, and many more expected to be lost due to how the bill redefines independent contractors and employees, AB 5 has already been decimating industries across California.

One of the hardest and most controversially hit areas is the media. Due to, in the words of AB 5’s author, an “arbitrary” limit of 35 paid submissions a year for freelance journalists, many publications have had to fire writers en masse. Vox alone had to get rid of 200 writers in California. And as CNN reported, small town papers with a limited number of writers face huge challenges in 2020. Many aren’t sure they can even survive without a steady number of freelance writers.

“We rely on freelancers for almost everything,” noted the editor of a small newspaper in Northern California who didn’t wish to be named. “We have mostly college kids and retired folks writing on the side, either building some part time writing experience, or keeping active and making a little spending money. With the 35 limit I don’t know where to go.”

Possible changes to AB 5

With such a large outcry, and a large number of Californians facing vastly reduced pay or no pay at all, state lawmakers have begun to think twice about AB 5.

Foremost among them is AB 5 author Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego). While she has been very vocal in her support for AB 5 despite a growing number of problems, she has begun to questions the freelance writer part of the bill. In recent weeks she has shown little empathy for writers who lost their jobs, especially in the case of Vox.

“I’m sure some legit freelancers lost substantial income, and I empathize with that especially this time of year. But Vox is a vulture,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said earlier this month.

But last week the Assemblywoman changed her tune and opened up to possible changes to AB 5 for freelance journalist submissions.

“I almost regret asking this here,” said Gonzalez on Twitter. “But given the broad cross section of freelance writers here, it’s a start: if the Bill was amended to make clear that the Business to Business exemption applies to freelance journalists who satisfied the requirements – would that work?”

She further clarified her position of working on changing that part of the law in 2020 over a Twitter response several days later.

“These were never good jobs,” Tweeted Gonzalez. “No one has ever suggested that, even freelancers. We will continue to work on this next year.”

It should be noted that during her Twitter session that Gonzalez was both praised for her AB 5 efforts and also criticized for not understanding the industry and only speaking for a small number of freelancers.

Growing concern over AB 5

While she has continued to defend the bill as a whole, saying recently “This is not a bad bill”, her willingness to change a part of it shows early worry.

“Just before Christmas there were some Assemblymembers who said they were shocked at the number of people coming out against AB 5,” said Dana, who works at the State Capitol. “Truckers especially. There were a lot of businesses just barely scraping by that called in who now have to decide between keeping two employees full time or keeping 10 or so part-time as contractors.”

“I can’t speak to my own feelings of the bill, but I can say that a we’ve heard from a lot of Californians about wanting changes to the bill. After January 1st we’re probably going to hear a lot more.”

Lawsuits and election worry

AB 5 could also be curtailed in the courts, as two lawsuits, filed by truckers and journalists respectively, are currently challenging the soon to be law. If successful, AB 5 could be gone by as soon as 2021.

“A lot of people in Sacramento are taking notice of this,” explained California pollster Ricardo Chavez. “I think Gonzalez has a good heart and truly cares about workers, but no one really looked into what the consequences would be. Now there are lawsuits going against the first amendment and pissing off the papers and news channels. You turn on CNN, and it isn’t about AB 5 giving workers good benefits, it’s about all the lives it’s ruining.”

“A lot of Assembly members and a lot of senators aren’t going to push that they backed AB 5 this fall. That’s why they’re starting to try and change it. They don’t want to lose votes and they want to keep their position. A lot of people lost jobs here. They argued that people shouldn’t have a few side hustles when they should get a good-paying job in the first place, but a lot of people have full-time minimum wage jobs now that they need side hustles with just to make it. AB 5 failed to see the big picture to a lot of people. We’re starting to hear just that in phone polls.”

“Everyone backing this is, ultimately, a politician. So yes, they are worried about votes and they are worried about making the press mad by taking away many of their jobs.”

“I also want to point out that this is only the press. Many other jobs are being hurt out there because of this. A lot of independent contractors, or those in contractor like jobs, are feeling this.”

AB 5 will be law in California January 1st. Any changes to AB 5, as well as the results of the lawsuits against the bill, are expected next year.

Evan Symon
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29 thoughts on “Assemblywoman Gonzalez, Other Lawmakers Begin To Rethink Certain Parts of AB 5

  1. I’m almost 70, retiring next year, and was planning on doing some occasional consulting for the company I’m retiring from. Under AB 5, I might not be able to do this. Oh well, I’ll just have less money during retirement.

  2. ‘Good’ Liberal Politicians think that they are harming evil capitalists, but they are just harming people who vote for them and are struggling to pay taxes supporting their Golden Retirements

  3. I have 2 years of payments left on a
    CARB compliant truck that the government said l had to have to continue to work in California.
    And now I’m told by the company I haul for that as of January 1st they can no longer use me because of AB5.
    Some tell me to move but I’d rather move because I want to not because I have to.

  4. The politicians who passed this are idiots. They had no idea how many lives this would impact. Any positions that can be filled by people living outside of California will be filled that way. Any positions that cannot be filled will simply be eliminated. How does that help the workers? What about Uber and Lyft drivers – what is going to happen to them? I’ll bet there was a lot of union money pushing for this bill and the politicians who are in the pockets of the unions voted this into existence….

    1. I think you nailed it. I am about to lose my job of almost 30 years as a freelance transcriber due to this bill. But hey, the unions are happy. Lots of people will be leaving California over this.

  5. “Clarifications” will not be any help. Most businesses are risk-averse, time-strapped, and terrified of possible litigation. Why risk it at all when it’s so much easier to hire someone in 49 other states? California sole proprietors, LLCs, S and C Corps will be blacklisted, period.

    When the response is that all we need to do is “explain it to them,” save your breath. Clients LOVE hiring potential contractors who want to argue with them and tell them they’re wrong. What a nice way to build collegial working relationships. /sarcasm rant over

  6. Section 1 (c) of AB 5 states:
    (c) “The misclassification of workers as independent contractors has been a significant factor in the erosion of the middle class and the rise in income inequality.”
    This is right out of the communist world order! “erosion of the middle class” The middle class is doing good without government controlling everyone’s income. “Income inequality” WE WILL NOT MAKE LESS SO THE PEOPLE BECOME DEPENDENT ON THE GOV.! Each one of us is knowledgeable in our own chosen field, job, work etc.. . Some people will make more than others. We all work hard and reach for the best. What democrat has EVER tried to make a law or tax to improve our income? NONE.

  7. I am a student and I make my living doing music and other independent side gigs. This bill, while seeming to have good intentions, is going to hurt a lot of people, including myself. This law is going to make it harder for me to be able to make a living as an independent contractor. And for the places that are hiring me as an “employee” now, even though sometimes I only work a few hours in a single month, I no longer can get tax benefits of writing off business expenses which means more loss of income for my bottom line.

  8. As a full time rideshare driver for the past 4 years, I have seen uber/lyft constantly taking advantage of its drivers. AB5 is the only protection we have have. Please keep this bill as is for rideshare.

    1. If Uber, because of AB5, forces me to become an employee and drive according to a schedule dictating when I have to drive, I’m quitting for good. Please repeal AB5.

  9. I’m a small business owner and AB5 is going to make me let go of 3 employees who are freelancers and work side jobs. Trucking industry is already taking a big hit this year and this will force alot of people to go out of business or move out of the state when they really don’t want to.

  10. It’s not any of Lorena Bobbit’s, I mean Gonzalez’s business, nor the business of the damn government what lawful citizens do for business or with whom they do it.

  11. Earthquakes, fires, and AB5. Now all you need is a Tsunami to destroy California in its entirety. What were they thinking????

  12. Even full-time do spotty work.
    “Now there are lawsuits going against the first amendment and pissing of the papers and news channel…”
    Should be ‘pissing off’.

  13. This new law will definitely affect the livelihood of most translators/interpreters who are independent contractors by choice. None of my clients would have enough work to keep me busy full time in my language combination. Therefore I, as most translators/interpreters, work with several agencies from all over the country. Some of them have already communicated they no longer will be able to work with translators/interpreters in the state, unless I incorporate.

  14. We are a safety company providing services throughout California. Many of our fine people working for us are in scattered parts of the state and therefore they hold various independent “jobs.” They are independent contractors by choice or by circumstance of their living scenario. Some are also partially retired and provide their skills to many different companies like us. With Lorena, Gavin, and those who supported this bill… they have effectively fired hundreds of thousands of hard working people in CA. Nice going!

  15. Representative Gonzalez has aimed at giants like Uber, and hit our most vulnerable earners right in between the eyes. The giants will easily dance around this new law, while people whose only source of income was under-employed independent contracting work experience financial catastrophe. Better order more tents, this will create more homeless people who until AB5 had an important role in our economy. Small, new businesses are the most effective way to create new jobs, AB5 targets these very vulnerable small businesses whose only viable option to get help is hiring independent contractors. Ironically, AB5 actually favors mid-sized and large businesses and deals a fatal blow to small businesses. Can you please stop trying to create all these industry-specific exceptions which effectively block cross-sector innovative small businesses in their most vulnerable stage? AB5 is an example of the road to hell being paved by good intentions, it will catastrophically harm the very people it was intended to protect:
    1)directly when independent contractors lose work, 2)indirectly because it aborts the viability of small startups who need independent contractors as much as a baby needs an umbilical cord and 3)directly decreasing the number of paid internships which will have to be employees with full benefits now. In that way, AB5 is economically stratifying: fewer internships with more pay and better benefits; fewer haves and more have-nots.
    AB5 literally cuts the cord for small start-ups. Please either create a small business exemption such as less than $1,000,000 gross income per year or allow a given business to have some limited number of independent contractors and/or interns.

  16. I just tried to submit a comment to Lorena Gonzalez’ official website and it would not let me do so just because I live in the wrong zip code. I guess you really DO need to be living in the right zip code to enjoy economic opportunity and Assemblywoman Gonzalez seems to be enforcing that rule by shutting out comments regarding the economically stratifying AB5 that she and her staff authored. Well I am submitting a comment here: Please repeal Assembly Bill 5 and re=write it before you double, triple, or exponentiate California’s already potent problems of economic stratification. AB5 will create more “have-nots” than it will improve the plight of “haves.” Don’t believe me, just look at the data for small business start-ups and how many jobs they create. Please modify AB5 to exclude businesses grossing less than $1,000,000 per year.

    1. I’m not voting Democrat any more the hell with them ……..and if I have to stop my truck I will
      California politicians are CORRUPT

  17. I am a professional independent contractor interpreter. I lost my contracts with two language agencies due to this law. It was the greatest nightmare to begin the new year. Sadly, I can’t go back to a full time job because of obligations I have to take care of at home. Besides, I truly enjoyed the flexibility of being a freelancer. The new law ruined my life.

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