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There was a time not too long ago when the “gig economy” was loved by progressives. President Obama favored it. Many Democrats used to speak well of it. Then something drastic changed. Labor unions realized they were losing members to it as more people embraced the freedom and benefits of being independent contractors. That wasn’t going to stand with the labor unions, so they turned to the Democrats and demanded they bring it to an end.
In California, the gig economy is officially anathema on January 1 as AB 5 takes effect.
Much has been written about how this will effect Uber and Lyft drivers negatively, but there’s a much smaller industry that’s getting demolished. Freelance journalists in California will be capped to 35 content submissions per year per news outlet. This should make absolutely no sense to anyone, even most Democrats, as it imposes the nanny state over something that wasn’t broken, wasn’t hurting anyone, and was essentially a win-win across the board. Why would they impose this Draconian, senseless requirement?
If they want to write more than 35 articles per year for a publication, they must be hired as an employee of the publication and join their labor union. Now does it make sense, at least from an authoritarian, radical progressive perspective?
Some are speaking out, but unfortunately the freelance writer “lobby” is essentially non-existent.
The bill, which cracks down on companies — like ride-sharing giants Lyft and Uber — that misclassify would-be employees as independent contractors, has been percolating through the California legislative system for nearly a year. It codifies the 2018 Dynamex decision by the State Supreme Court while carving out some exemptions for specific professions.
But the exemption for freelance journalists — which some have only just learned about via their colleagues, press reports, social networks and/or spirited arguments with the bill’s author on Twitter — contains what some say is a potentially career-ending requirement for a writer to remain a freelancer: If a freelance journalist writes for a magazine, newspaper or other entity whose central mission is to disseminate the news, the law says, that journalist is capped at writing 35 “submissions” per year per “putative employer.” At a time when paid freelance stories can be written for a low end of $25 and high end of $1 per word, some meet that cap in a month just to make end’s meet.
Amy Lamare, who writes for money site Celebritynetworth.com and YourTango.com, adds, “Everyone’s freaking out, like my anxiety is going through the damn roof.”
How can free people living their dream fight against Big Labor and their lapdogs in the California Democratic Party? The answer: They can’t. The state is hell-bent on becoming a dystopian utopia for anyone who hates their own freedoms.
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