Yesterday, the California legislature stopped an effort to overturn the gig-killing law AB5. Lawmakers had a chance to correct the wrong of AB5 by repealing it and returning to the previous standard to determine which workers are independent contractors. They blew it.  

Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, the sponsor of a repeal bill, AB 1928, has been a champion of independent contractors statewide. He has collected stories of independent contractors harmed by AB5–and you can share your story too with IWF here— and hosted or attended rallies to oppose AB5.

Recognizing that workers are losing jobs, contracts, and working opportunities because of AB5, Kiley introduced AB 1928. The bill would pause the impacts of AB5 and repeal it. 

Specifically, it would “repeal those existing provisions and instead require a determination of whether a person is an employee or an independent contractor to be based on the specific multifactor test set forth in Borello, including whether the person to whom service is rendered has the right to control the manner and means of accomplishing the result desired, and other identified factors…”

If passed AB 1928 would take effect immediately.

Unfortunately, California legislators overwhelmingly (55-10) opposed a procedural vote that would clear the way for an immediate vote to repeal AB5.

As I discussed with Beverly Hallberg on the SheThinks podcast today, this was a valiant and important effort by Kiley but not likely to succeed.

As I predicted, it is far more likely is that the bill’s sponsors would just find ways to exempt groups that speak out most. 

So said, so done.

On the same morning of this vote, AB5’s author Lorena Gonzales introduced a bill to exempt freelance writers and journalists from AB5.

Gonzales proposed removing the cap of 35 pieces that a freelance writer, photographer or editor can provide to a single hiring entity before being classified as an employee.

Was this an admission of the hardship triggered by her AB5 bill or just a way to sink its repeal efforts by quieting the journalism communitiy? You be the judge.

The harm of AB5 is clear. Just read the words of independent contractors themselves:

@KevinKileyCA: #AB5stories, Sylvia: “Our local musical theater company of 68 years closed today because of #AB5…I am beyond tears.”

@KevinKileyCA: #AB5stories, Hoa: “The total cost of daycare would be $3,000 a month for both my children if I have to give up my freelance career, as #AB5 mandates. More importantly, the thought of spending less time with my children during their most formative development breaks my heart.”

Exempting occupations is not the answer. The law is fundamentally wrong and should be overturned. It’s also unfair to small business owners who cannot afford the pay-to-play system to get an exemption.

As backlash grows against AB5, hopefully, lawmakers will listen. There are also several pending judicial challenges to AB5 and a potential referendum effort.

To understand AB5 and what it could mean for you –even if you live outside of California– read our new policy focus: The Threat to Independent Contracting: AB 5