“AB5 is a poster child for union-based political corruption.”

Jon Garner is a man of many words. He’s a wordsmith and marketing professional with decades of experience as a copywriter. Being an independent contractor has allowed him to stay in the workforce as an older worker. That is, until AB5 started to reduce working opportunities for him. Many older Californians, like Garner, are the biggest losers from this job-killing labor law.

Garner has been a copywriter his whole life, a gift he said that he discovered while in college. He started his career in his early twenties at an ad agency. He honed his skills and climbed the ladder over decades in marketing and copywriting for a broad spectrum of markets.

Garner has held long-term ad agency and corporate marketing jobs and started his own businesses—most recently a full-service marketing and advertising agency in 2013, which he continues to operate.

“Marketing is not a profession without hazards,” Garner said. “This industry is fairly transitory. I’ve always needed to be ready for layoffs. The hedge I have against that is freelancing.”

Garner has been able to freelance whenever not employed by a company. It was a good arrangement for him.

However, AB5, along with the pandemic, has made it nearly impossible for him to find work. “It’s a balancing act of getting new business and finishing current projects,” he said. “Now that COVID hit, no one is doing anything. No one is buying anything.”

His clients depend on events (like coin shows) to attract customers, but because of lockdowns, they are hurting. So is he.

Freelance work protects against ageism

At 68 years old, Garner appreciates freelancing because he believes that he would not be hired otherwise.

“There’s a definite ageism factor at least in the marketing field. There’s almost zero chance of a senior marketing person getting hired full-time,” he continued. “What are we supposed to do for work?”

In a video for the Los Angeles Freelancers Coalition, Garner explained that “I believe that hundreds of thousands of seniors who need to work can’t because of AB5.”

These older Americans, like him, have experience and talent that they have successfully leveraged for work and building client bases.

Since AB5, though, work has dried up. “It gets worse the older you get because it shrinks the job pool even more.”

Garner’s family is hurting financially. Like many seniors, he cannot afford to retire. Social Security is not enough to sustain him and his wife. She continues to work as a registered nurse.

“With her income and Social Security, we are able to make the house payment, but we have very little left over.“

Unions are behind AB5

“AB5 is a poster child for union-based political corruption. It’s nothing more than a union money-grab.”

Garner pointed to the strong influence of labor unions in crafting and advancing AB5. The author of the bill, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, has strong ties to unions and is noted for saying that independent contracting jobs were “never good jobs.”

Unions, which have seen their membership and influence wane over decades to their lowest level last year, came roaring back with this bill that forces most companies to hire their independent contractors as employees and provide them with benefits and employment protections. These workers can then be unionized and pay dues.

“Unions are entrenched, so I am really thankful to hear from people like [IWF], the LA Freelancers Coalition, and Freelancers Against AB5.” Our organizations and groups are fighting back against AB5 in California as well as flagging that the law’s reclassification of independent contractors is heading to other states and could become the law nationwide.

Garner is unequivocal about his opposition to AB5 based on its impact on older Americans like him, “Bottom line: It’s cut-and-dried: it’s a bad thing.”

Do you have a story about how AB5 or other independent contracting laws have affected your ability to work? Share your story here.