“More people are turning to gig work than ever before, but since these jobs usually don’t come with employer benefits, their proliferation could worsen inequality for millions of Americans.
The number of people employed in nontraditional ways in the US rose to a record 51 million this year, an unprecedented 34 percent jump compared to 2020, according to new data from MBO Partners, a company that provides business solutions to the independent workforce and has conducted a long-running study of the group. These types of workers — which include contract workers, people who are self-employed, temporary and on-call workers, and those who get short-term jobs through online apps or marketplaces — are now equivalent to a third of US employment.”
“This isn’t speculation. We know what this law bill will do to freelancers because it’s based on A.B. 5, legislation passed in California in 2019 that codified extremely restrictive rules controlling who was allowed to work as an independent contractor. The law was written deliberately to attack the gig economy and companies like Uber and Lyft, which operate on a business model in which drivers are classified as independent contractors. This means they can set their own hours and control their work schedules, but also means they don’t qualify for certain benefits. And it also makes it much harder for union supporters to organize them.
But A.B. 5 was written so broadly that in practice it affected thousands of different jobs, threatening hairdressers, freelance journalists, real estate agents, translators, musicians, and many, many others. Ultimately, the bill’s own creator had to pass legislation last year that carved out a bunch of occupational exemptions. The ride-sharing and delivery drivers were left in, but then California voters in November supported a ballot initiative that exempted them as well.
A.B. 5 is in tatters but is still officially on the books. A federal ruling had exempted truck drivers from A.B. 5, accepting the argument that it was preempted by federal transportation law. But on Wednesday, a panel of three judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reversed the lower court’s order, meaning that independent truckers may soon be affected by the law, hampering their ability to find work unless a company takes them on as employees.
Circuit Judge Mark J. Bennett was the sole dissenter, noting that “[California Trucking Association’s] members will now suffer irreparable injury.”
“Embedded within the PRO Act is text to take A.B. 5 nationwide, despite California voters’ rejection of the measure. It sets the exact same rules restricting who is permitted to be classified as an independent contractor, regardless of what the worker actually wants. This, to be clear, is completely intentional. A.B. 5 proponent Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D–San Diego) dismissed the concerns of freelancers, saying, “These were never good jobs.” It was very clearly her goal to dismantle and destroy the ability for workers to decide to make careers out of being independent contractors.”
“Proposition 22, created to decide the future of the California gig economy, has passed.
The proposition concerned whether app-based drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft are employees or independent contractors. And its success, which the Associated Press called before midnight Wednesday PT, means those companies will effectively be exempted from a California law that would have pushed such drivers to be classified as employees.
The decision is a major win for gig companies”