Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez on Thursday proposed changes to her controversial Assembly Bill 5 to exempt freelance writers, photographers and journalists in the wake of widespread anger and a lawsuit.
The new law requires most independent contractors to become shift employees, except in a small number of politically connected occupations like lawyers, doctors and real estate agents.
AB 5 has drawn angry criticism from translators, independent musicians, truck drivers, franchise operators and other occupations in addition to journalists, all of whom fear they will lose their livelihoods. Republican legislators have introduced a raft of bills to change or overturn the law, and rideshare companies have committed $90 million to a ballot measure.
“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 mis-classification,” Gonzalez said.
Her changes include removing the 35-item cap on the number of submissions that a writer, photographer or editor can provide a single contracting entity before they must become an employee. Another change specifies that a contractor cannot replace an employee.
Two professional organizations, the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Press Photographers Association, filed suit against the new law in December, claiming it wold unconstitutionally limit the amount of work available to freelancers.
The bill’s threat to the emerging gig economy was in evidence in San Diego on Tuesday when a judge cited AB 5 in placing an injunction on the grocery delivery company Instacart.