Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez announces changes to AB 5 for freelance journalists and photographers

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – After intense backlash from thousands of Californians regarding AB 5, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher is announcing changes to how her bill applies to freelance writers and journalists.

Despite claiming live on KUSI News that her bill did not cause thousands of people to lose work, Gonzalez says, “having heard additional feedback from a variety of freelance writers, photographers and journalists, we are making changes to Assembly Bill 5 that accommodate their needs and still proved protections from misclassification.”

Since the law took effect on January 1, 2020, KUSI News has conducted a series of interviews with people who have been hurt by the bill, many losing their ability to earn a living. We routinely asked for both people who have been hurt and helped by the legislation. Unfortunately, no one reached out to speak about how the benefited from AB 5’s regulations.

Many opponents of the bill believe it was designed to increase union membership. Which in return would help fund the campaigns of the elected officials who support it, like Assemblywoman Gonzalez and Assemblyman Todd Gloria, San Diego’s only mayoral candidate who supports AB 5.

Gonzalez disagrees with their claim, she explained on KUSI News, “just because somebody is an employee does not mean they’re union, that’s ludicrous. It would be great, I think it would be great if all employees were unionized, but that’s not the situation.”

The amendments Gonzalez is introducing to AB 5 include removing the submission cap (35) “that a freelance writer, photographer or editor can provide a single hiring entity before they must classify the individual as an employee.”

Plus, “to strike a balance and protect employment opportunities in these professions, the amendments specify that a contractor cannot replace an employee position.” Furthermore, when someone provides a service under contract, “the contract must specify the rate of their  pay, a defined time by which they must receive their payment, and the individual’s intellectual property rights to their work. The amendments also specify that freelancers cannot be restricted from working for more than one hiring entity and cannot primarily perform their work at the hiring entity’s business location. ”

The same day these changes were announced, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley and Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez initiated a vote on AB 1928, a bill that would repeal AB 5. The motion failed with 15 aye votes, and 50 no votes.

RELATED STORY:  Assemblyman Kevin Kiley’s bill to repeal AB 5 fails to receive enough votes

Ab 1928 Vote

Results of the California State Assembly vote on AB 1928

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher’s full press release on the changes is below:

SACRAMENTO – (Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020) – After more than a year of meetings, fact-findings and discussions with freelance writers and journalists, California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) today announced amendments to her landmark state law, Assembly Bill 5, that will strengthen protections for workers in this industry.

“Having heard additional feedback from a variety of freelance writers, photographers and journalists, we are making changes to Assembly Bill 5 that accommodate their needs and still provide protections from misclassification,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said.

When AB 5 passed last year, Assemblywoman Gonzalez acknowledged that the Legislature’s work was not done. She introduced Assembly Bill 1850 in January to continue working on the issues affecting a variety of industries following the unanimous 2018 California Supreme Court’s Dynamex decision that established a three-part ABC test for determining employment status. In the first substantive round of amendments to AB 1850, Assemblywoman Gonzalez is making a variety of changes to how AB 5 applies to freelancer writers, photographers and editors.

The amendments remove the cap on the number of submissions that a freelancer writer, photographer or editor can provide a single hiring entity before they must classify the individual as an employee. To strike a balance and protect employment opportunities in these professions, the amendments specify that a contractor cannot replace an employee position.

When these individuals provide services under a contract, the contract must specify the rate of their pay, a defined time by which they must receive their payment, and the individual’s intellectual property rights to the work. The amendments also specify that freelancers cannot be restricted from working for more than one hiring entity and cannot primarily perform their work at the hiring entity’s business location.

AB 5 already contains requirements that hiring entities of freelance writers, photographers, and editors must verify in order for Dynamex and the ABC test to not apply, including that:

  • The individual is providing services through a sole proprietorship or other business entity.
  • The individual maintains a business location that is separate from the hiring entity, which may include the individual’s residence.
  • The individual has a business license, if their work is performed after July 1, 2020.
  • The individual has the ability to set or negotiate their own rates for the services performed.

·         The individual has the ability to set their own hours, outside of project completion dates and reasonable business hours.

Categories: California News, Local San Diego News, Politics