“California is exempting about two-dozen more professions from a landmark labor law designed to treat more people like employees instead of contractors, under a bill that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed on Friday,” reports the San Diego Union-Tribune:
The amendments, which take effect immediately, end what lawmakers said were unworkable limits on services provided by freelance writers and still photographers, photojournalists, and freelance editors and newspaper cartoonists. It includes safeguards to make sure they are not replacing current employees. The new measure also exempts various artists and musicians, along with some involved in the insurance and real estate industries.
Vox Media had already cited the earlier version of California’s AB-5 law as the reason it fired hundreds of freelance writers in December.
But the state’s fight against gig-worker companies is still ongoing, reports CNN Wire:
According to William B. Gould IV, a law professor at Stanford University, it “certainly makes a lot of sense for the Attorney General to put a lot of their marbles in the Uber basket. You’re dealing with a company that has thumbed its nose at the rule of law for some time now and thinks there’s no restriction that they can’t evade,” added Gould IV, a former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board. Jenny Montoya Tansey, policy director at the Public Rights Project, a public interest legal nonprofit that has been involved with enforcement efforts in California, said another factor is that “drivers have organized in numbers and are doing a really compelling job in getting their stories out, letting regulators, enforcers and policy makers understand some of the experiences that drivers go through.”
And Tansey adds that the law’s enforcers are also eyeing food delivery services:
Prior to AB-5, San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott filed a suit against Instacart, the on-demand grocery delivery startup valued at $14 billion, over worker classification; the case is on-going. More recently, in June, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin filed a suit against DoorDash, the food delivery startup valued at $16 billion. “Food delivery is in demand now more than ever. Multi-billion dollar corporations that deliver food are profiting off this crisis while they exploit their drivers and deny them a living wage, unemployment insurance, sick leave and other basic workplace protections,” said Assemblywoman Gonzalez of San Diego in a statement to CNN Business, adding praise to Elliott and Boudin’s actions. “I hope other officials follow their lead. These companies need to be held to the same standards as any other law-abiding business in the state,” Gonzalez added….
The threat to the combined on-demand business model is evident. Uber, Lyft, Instacart, DoorDash and Uber-owned Postmates have funneled more than $110 million into passing a referendum in November, known as Prop 22, that would exempt them from the law while providing drivers with some additional benefits.
Additionally, Uber and Lyft are facing lawsuits from California’s Labor Commissioner’s Office over allegedly committing wage theft by misclassifying their on-demand workers as independent contractors instead of employees.