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Rock & Roller and Others Concerned About Their Future Under AB 5



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The future of labor is leaving many question marks and much concern among those who attended a workshop about a controversial state law that went into effect this year.
State Senator Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno) held the event last week to answer question about the impact of AB 5, the law that redefines what an independent contractor is. More than 100 people filled an auditorium at Clovis Community College eager to hear how their livelihood could change.
“It is designed to squeeze out freelancers and independent contractors from the workforce,” Borgeas said describing AB 5.
The bill, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), created standards that define who is an independent contractor, and who is an employee subject to state labor laws. While the focus has been on how it will affect “gig economy” workers such as Uber and Lyft, there are many other industries and workers the law reaches.

Rock & Roller Afraid of Losing Gigs

Don Davis plays bass for Executive Rockers, a local band that plays gigs at nightclubs. Their motto, listed on the band’s website: “The Friendliest and Most Versatile Band in All the Land.”
He’s concerned about his future if he is no longer considered an independent contractor. It’s a concern other musicians are facing he said.
“Everybody is really in the dark exactly how it will affect us,” Davis said.
Yvonne Schwemmer is also in the performing arts of a sort. The Coarsegold native narrates medical and tech textbooks as a voiceover artist. She took a pause from her business, but is looking to get back in.
“It doesn’t make any sense to even pursue California clients at this time,” she said. “That was the low-hanging fruit.”
She’s noticed being from the Golden State is a detriment.
“This is a tough business for anyone. This just made it a lot tougher,” she said. “A lot of companies are not willing to go that route because of the uncertainty of this whole thing and the concern about fines. Some companies are actually specifying ‘No California.”

Borgeas Introduces Bill to Help Franchisees

“Even folks who supported AB 5 didn’t fully appreciate the implications,” Borgeas said.
But, an attempt to gut the law last week failed. California Republican assemblymembers introduced a bill to suspend AB 5’s implementation. The vote went along party lines, with Democrats voting against it to preserve the law.
Last week, Borgeas introduced SB 967, to protect independent franchise owners from being considered employees of their parent corporation (such as a local franchisee of a national fast food restaurant).
Another Borgeas bill would prevent AB 5 from being applied retroactively.
Gonzalez has agreed to consider legislation to exempt some segments of the workforce, such as freelance journalists.
The state set up a website (link here) to answer AB 5 questions.

Will California Set the Trend?

“I’m angry that one person in particular decided she knew what was best for everybody else.”Tara C., graphic design
Tara C. is less concerned about her work as a graphic designer, and more concerned about the concept of AB 5 spreading nationally.
Last month, the House of Representatives passed the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (HR 2474), 224-194. The bill was mainly supported by Democrats, including Jim Costa, D-Fresno, and TJ Cox, D-Fresno.
Tara blamed Gonzalez for the trend.
“I’m angry that one person in particular decided she knew what was best for everybody else,” Tara said. “There are people who love what they do. If they wanted to work full time, they would.”
Like Schwemmer, Tara — a freelancer — is awaiting to see if she wants to work for California clients.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email