Legislation that would regulate the gig economy and force an estimated 2 million independent contractors in California to become shift employees passed the state Senate by a vote of 29-11.
Assembly Bill 5, authored by San Diego Democrat Lorena Gonzalez, would codify a 2018 California Supreme Court decision upholding labor laws that were written decades before the Internet.
“Our #AB5 to stop the misclassification of nearly a million misclassified California workers so they are provided a minimum wage, benefits and workplace rights has passed the Senate today with 29 votes,” tweeted Gonzalez.
But the bill was opposed by Republicans in the legislature, who pointed to the potential for significant job losses.
“AB 5 will not only limit an individual’s ability for flexible employment, but will destroy entire industries across California. Independent contractors and small businesses are the backbone of a thriving California economy,” said Sen. Andreas Borgeas of Fresno.
The bill now goes back to the Assembly for a vote on last-minute changes, including a one-year delay offered to the newspaper industry for its delivery workers. Specific carve-outs like that drew criticism from several lawmakers.
“The bill’s Christmas tree of exemptions is a prime example of the Legislature picking winners and losers. Why should some people enjoy an exemption while others such as newspaper carriers and language interpreters and translators do not?” said Sen. Patricia Bates, who represents north coastal San Diego County.
Nearly 40 occupations from doctors to grant writers to repo men have carve-outs in the bill, but hundreds of others will be impacted on Jan. 1 if Gov. Gavin Newsom signs the bill.
Sen. Brian Jones of Santee offered an amendment that would have delayed the implementation of the Supreme Court decision for two years, but that was rejected.
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