Opinion: Why Assembly Bill 5 will hurt, not help, freelancers

Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, is the House of Representatives minority leader. Vincent Fong represents represents California’s 34th district in the California Assembly.

California exemplifies how the power of an idea and the will to achieve can change the world. From the 49ers to the Valley farmers to the engineers in the Mojave Desert who will take human travelers into space, California is a powerhouse of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.

Despite our history, I’m concerned that liberal policies from Sacramento are limiting the very landscape and future of our state.

Just look at the most recent law that would preclude individuals from using their labor, on their time, to make a living. This law, AB 5, forces employers to designate the majority of freelancers or gig workers as employees, removing the allure of flexible work and independence. Sacramento Democrats say this is about labor protections for individuals. We believe in common sense protections for California workers, but the authors of AB 5 chose a sledgehammer approach against flexible work as a giveaway to politically powerful labor unions, which will make life increasingly difficult for Californians pursuing a more flexible schedule or the freedom to simultaneously freelance on multiple employment opportunities.

This could affect parents looking for a side job to make their child’s birthday a little extra special. Or the entrepreneur pursuing his or her dreams while working adjustable hours. And consider the first-generation college student working to pay his or her way through school one semester at a time. These are our friends and neighbors, and AB 5 will inevitably hurt their ability to realize their goals.

Though this bill has just taken effect, AB 5 is already directly hurting freelancers. Just last month, VOX Media announced it is cutting hundreds of jobs in California. And VOX won’t be the only outlet affected.

The law specifically states journalists will only be permitted to write up to 35 articles per publication in California (including photographers and editorial cartoonists), greatly minimizing the pool of voices who provide news coverage to our fellow citizens.

Already, prominent journalists are taking notice. Yashar Ali, one of Governor Newsom’s former staffers, tweeted AB 5 is “one of the most destructive pieces of legislation in the past 20 years.”

It’s not just journalists or rideshare drivers affected by this law. Many contractors, like California Trucking Association members who have filed a federal lawsuit, “have previously worked as employees, and have by choice, struck out on their own.” Sadly, the real and negative impacts of this legislation are unsurprising; it is a pattern of government overreach that has become synonymous with the laws passed by Sacramento.

This bill symbolizes just one way that liberal policies continue to hurt Californians. And as Sacramento Democrats continue working overtime to push for a big-government agenda that manages every aspect of our lives, it’s clear that they are either unable or unwilling to listen to the very citizens they were elected to serve.



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