California’s AB5 law is inflicting severe damage to freelance workers throughout the state.
The law, which makes it more difficult to be classified as an independent contractor, has put HR professionals, optometrists, back-up singers, caterers, translators, event planners, journalists, and many more professionals out of work.
As such it is fast becoming a lesson in economic theory and what happens when lawmakers interfere with the free-market system.
The law’s author, San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, says that independent contractors need union-driven labor laws over the flexibility and autonomy that independent work provides. She could not be more wrong.
Furthermore, California workers who in the past embraced liberal politics are coming around to why free-market policies are better for workers and better for them.
Just read their own words in the City Journal:
“Now I’m seeing a lot of people like me who are either going Independent or Republican,” [Gloria Rivera, a Peruvian-born translator and interpreter who register as a Democrat] says, “myself included. The Democrats are not listening to us.”
“My entire political mindset has changed drastically following the enactment of AB5,” says Cathy Hertz, a freelance copyeditor of STM (science-technology-medicine) books, from Loma Linda. Hertz campaigned for Barack Obama cross-country at her own expense in 2008; she campaigned for him locally, in Los Angeles, in 2012. “Now I feel that the rights of entrepreneurs are being stifled, trampled upon, violated,” she says. “Free enterprise is one of the main pillars of modern democracy.”
“I definitely sense a change,” says Evan Wecksell [a comedian and tutor by trade who was registered as a Democrat and today is a Libertarian]. “People who swore they would never vote for a Republican are doing it. We were not up to speed with knowing what was going on in Sacramento, but AB5 was a lesson and we’re learning from it. They’re taking away our natural human rights.”
This issue goes beyond political affiliation to principles. Those on the left uphold the outdated employer-employee model as the gold standard for all workers. They believe unions are best suited to secure the wages and benefits for everyone else.
However, not everyone wants a one-size-fits-all wage, benefit-package or job. The rapid decline of unions to their lowest level in history underscore that Americans are choosing a different path. Many workers eschew a 9-5 clock-in-clock-out job for flexible work arrangements that allow them to balance work with other priorities in their lives such as caregiving, entrepreneurship, and even health issues.
If you want to make your own schedule, determine where and how you work, or be your own boss, freelance work is more appealing than working full-time for one company.
Workers are waking up to realize that the free-market system has evolved to provide that kind of flexibility, but those who talk about progress are the ones who want to drag them backwards.