Mike Rowe published a great post on Facebook explaining why AB5, the supposed “Gig Economy Law” in California is so terrible. It’s worth reading [I added emphasis]:
If you live out here, you probably know that AB-5 compels companies that hire freelancers to reclassify them as “employees.” This is way more complicated than it sounds, and there’s been huge pushback from Uber and Lyft, both of whom say they’ll leave California if the law isn’t repealed or amended.
Supporters of AB-5 claim that freelancers are treated unfairly by the people who hire them, and therefore require the “protections” that come with being an employee. Skeptics of AB-5 see the law as a transparent attempt by organized labor to gain more members. (Freelancers can’t unionize, employees can. Hence more employees = more potential union members.)
To be clear, I’m not looking for a fight with the unions, especially on Labor Day. I belong to a few myself, and I begrudge no one the right to join any union that will have them. In fact, many of those who received a scholarship from my foundation in the past, are working in union jobs today. Welders, steamfitters, pipe fitters, electricians, plumbers…a lot of people are happy to work as traditional employees under union rules. But many others are not. Many others are wired differently. They don’t seek or require the security that is often associated with being an employee. What they seek, is the ability to set their own hours, fund their own pension, pay their own taxes, and so forth. Well, those people just got shafted.
I say this, not a chronic freelancer who loved being an independent contractor, but as an employer who routinely hires freelancers today. Trust me on this, hiring employees is expensive and complicated, and I’m lucky to have a great staff of hardworking people who are great at what they do.But I don’t need any more employees. That’s why, from time to time, I like the flexibility of hiring freelancers when new projects come along that require more specialized attention. It’s good for me, and it’s good for them. But it’s crazy to assume I’m just going to bring all of those freelancers in house, simply because the state doesn’t want them to be independent. I’ll just spread the new work among my existing employees, or find an out-of-state solution, or do the work myself. And big employers like Uber and Lyft? They’ll simply stop doing business in California.
But the big point, in the spirit of Labor Day, is this – AB-5 isn’t just bad for freelancers who like to pick up a little extra cash driving in their spare time, it’s bad for thousands of other freelancers, too – retirees who continue to work as consultants, young parents who need flexible hours to raise their kids, nurses, physical therapists, lots of other healthcare workers, cameramen, writers, audio technicians, and in so many cases, the skilled tradespeople my own foundation helps train. These people aren’t going to gain new protections by becoming employees. They’re going to lose income and opportunity, because they’re not going to be hired at all.
Again, I’m not looking for a fight, but the politicians in Sacramento have most assuredly started one. They’ve waged a war on work. Specifically, a war on the freedom to earn a living outside of an employer/employee relationship. Obviously, that relationship works fine for millions of people who don’t wish to start every month staring at thirty blank squares, or any of the other risks that come with being an independent contractor. I get that. I’m just saying that most freelancers are not children. They’re grown-ups. They don’t need to be “protected” by bureaucrats in Sacramento from the risks they willingly assume. In other words, the gig economy is not the enemy of fairness, not everybody was cut out to be an employee, and Labor Day is not a just a celebration of organized labor; it’s a celebration of all work.
Here at mikeroweWORKS, we salute employees and freelancers alike along with apprentices and business owners – all men and women who have carved out a living by mastering a skill that’s in demand. Last month, it was our privilege to award over a million dollars to over 200 scholarship applicants who wish to pursue a career in the skilled trades. Whatever their classification, we wish them every success in their chosen field.
And don’t forget, this isn’t just California. If Biden wins the presidency, the Democrats have promised to screw over ALL freelancers nationally with the same law!!