R.I.P. 1099, AB 5 is your new boss
by Elizabeth Tobias
Published - 02/26/20 - 12:00 PM | 2199 views | 5 5 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print

2020 started with the promise of new possibilities. I had fresh, new plans for my upstart business in arts education. The new year also brought with it divisive new state legislation, Assembly Bill 5, also known as AB 5. This "gig worker bill” aims to reclassify millions of independent contractors as employees and to restructure the entire workforce in California.

Self-employment is more common in California than anywhere else in America. It was inconceivable that one piece of legislation meant to protect workers could sweep across the state with the force of a wildfire, destroying most every freelance occupation in its path. In hindsight, my initial reaction to the bill was naive. I trusted that my state government would have my back. Why wouldn’t I? The collateral damage hit me last week. I lost a summer teaching job. The sting of my disappointment prompted me to call the office of Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales, author of the bill. They hung up on me. Click. Gonzales is known to drop F bombs at people who question her about the law.

Since when had freelancers become a menace to society? For people who are self-employed, your work is not your job, it is who you are. Mandating that people cannot design their own lives feels paralyzing and degrading. Council member Barbara Bry, candidate for mayor says, "The new economy is diverse. People don't work in the same way they used to. They need a legal system that is responsive to our current economy.”

Understanding the legal background of AB 5 requires a proficiency in law that laypeople do not have — understanding The Dynamex Decision, interpreting The ABC Test and The Borello Test, expertise in business law, tax codes and countless other areas beyond my scope of knowledge.

Apparently Gonzales, Todd Gloria, co-author of the bill and candidate for mayor and the other legislators, did not have the scope of knowledge to anticipate all of the disastrous consequences. 

Can it be believed that they did not intend to harm the myriad of vulnerable professionals they impacted? Single mothers, disabled persons, musicians, artists, journalists, translators, court reporters, yoga instructors, photographers, and professionals from at least 160 more lines of work? 

I joined a social media group known as Freelancers Against AB5. The collective has grown to more than 12,000 members from across the state. The core mission is the full repeal of AB 5. Group founder, Karen Anderson, has become a modern-day folk hero. Her recent podcast is a comprehensive report about the bill and the devastation it has caused. She’s also been archiving personal stories. 

Politics make strange bedfellows. The freelancer group is bipartisan and members must adhere to community rules of mutual respect in order to stay in the group. In this era of divisiveness and unrest, this has been invaluable and very healing. Yes, we all can get along.

On Feb. 27, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley will initiate a floor vote on Assembly Bill 1928, an urgency measure to suspend AB 5 while corrective legislation is under consideration.

As we prepare for our upcoming tax deadlines, thousands have been forced to bid farewell to their 1099s until further notice.

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March 31, 2020

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Repeal AB 5
February 27, 2020

Your memebership in a union speaks volumes. AB 5 has already caused the loss of countless employment opportunities. Lorena Gonzalez' foul-mouthed twitter posts reveal her arrogant disdain for hard-working Californians who desire freedom, not obedience to the government. The AB 5 mindset reminds me of the quote: "We had to burn the village in order to save it."
Robert Burns
February 27, 2020
This reads like an hit piece. Callers rarely meet with hang-ups unless in response to vitriol; almost never can a State Legislator be reached by phone. There is no credibility to this diatribe. I looked at the Freelancers FB page and found the 1st person to be an orchestral musician and former real estate agent, clearly having no issue with AB5; I am a musician's union member. The opposition appears to demonstrate the new normal of Trumpian willfull stupidity and thuggish disinformation. Codifying a binding State Supreme Court decision is essentially inconsequential. Requiring unemployment insurance and workers compensation insurance for employees is beneficial, not evil, even in a State with token automobile insurance mandates. The central problem is the regressive-extremist attitude of the "tech industry" which favorably views sexual harassment, massive invasion of privacy, stockmarket casinos, E-scooter anarchy, and other malignant manifestations of unfettered capitalism. That said, it is unfair for industry to decipher whether it is involved in employment vs. independent contracting until the determination is made by statute, administrative determination, or judicial determination with statute being the most cost-effective means of determination. My observation of the FB site is that the blowback is coming primarily from the E-trash (Uber, et al.) and entertainment industries both of which are riddled with corruption and neither of which is commonplace. They'd do well to not throw the baby out with the bath water.
February 27, 2020
You are welcome to your opinion, however the effects this ill-conceived bill will do more harm than good for the average person looking to make supplemental income or control their own schedule.

Also small businesses, who already have a hard enough time making ends meet due to increases in minimum wage and employment taxes, will now be even more hard pressed to decide how to handle short-term employment needs for seasonal work and sporadic growth.

This bill is simply a way for the state to control even more portions of the economy and to increase tax revenues which will not go to the things the state actually needs and instead will simply fund pet projects and line political allies' pockets.
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