California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill on Friday exempting freelance journalists and a handful of other professions from a landmark 2019 labor law designed to protect gig workers.
In addition to the exemptions for freelance journalists, Friday's bill also exempts producers, certain musicians, real estate appraisers and youth sports coaches.
While the original law was intended to benefit workers, freelance reporters, photographers and editors said the law placed undue limits on the amount of journalistic work they could do. The law included a provision prohibiting freelancers from submitting more than 35 "filings" to a single employer.
The 2019 bill AB 5 went into effect this year and was aimed at gig economy giants like Lyft, Uber and Doordash. These companies have repeatedly fought against it, threatening to cease serving the state if the law is allowed to apply.
AB 5 essentially classifies drivers as employees and not as independent contractors for the company. Companies are required to provide health insurance, mandatory minimum wages and other benefits for employees.
The American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Press Photographers Association sued the state last December, with filing caps threatening their careers. These efforts were blocked by a Los Angeles judge in January.
San Diego MP Lorena Gonzalez, who wrote most of the 2019 law, said on Twitter on Friday that the new exemptions offer "more flexibility for musicians, journalists, photographers, creatives, interpreters and translators".
The new invoice removes the submission limit, but there is still the restriction that contractors can replace an employee position.
Voters will decide this November through a company-sponsored election initiative whether to consider app-based driver employees or independent contractors.
Another law passed by the Assembly on Monday, dubbed the Save Local Journalism Act, would provide relief to newspapers, especially small ethnic organizations suffering from advertising revenues due to the pandemic.
A report by the California News Publisher Association found that ethnic and community newspapers lost an average of 56% in monthly advertising revenue between April and June.
– Posted by Jon Parton, CNS