Democrats Pass AB 5 “Cleanup” Bill that Only Adds Confusion and Alienates Independent Contractors

Written by Julianne Foster

After Democrats passed AB 5 last year, freelance journalists, truck drivers, musicians, artists, and other independent contractors have experienced heavy restrictions and job losses.

Democrats are driving business out of California, and Uber and Lyft have threatening to withdraw their services from the state completely in an attempt to defend their drivers’ freedoms and thousands of jobs. With independent contractors and Republicans pushing against AB 5, Democrats finally agreed to advance a new bill designed to fix the problems, but only created more confusion.

AB 2257, the “fix it” bill, was written by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who also wrote AB 5. The bill is meant to give more definition to the differences between an employee and independent contractor—and how they are affected by AB 5.

Effective immediately, freelance writers, photographers, translators, and musicians are receiving exemptions to continue working as independent contractors. AB 2257 also eliminates the 35 submission cap on journalists and photographers, which was originally written to define those that submitted more than 35 a year as employees. The “cleanup” bill includes 75 exemptions in total, which proves how ineffective and damaging AB 5 has been to contractors. 

Although those 75 exemptions have cut loose many to return to the freedoms of their job as an independent contractor, AB 5 continues to restrict and threaten hundreds of thousands of workers in California. Independent contractors have reported that employers have turned to out-of-state contractors to get around AB 5. This tactic is already accessible with jobs that are remote employment, but that leads to a lot of contractors remaining unemployed in California.

Democrats may believe they have done a service to workers by “fixing” AB 5, but in reality they should never have passed a bill that costs so many their livelihood. The only true “fix it” bill would be a complete repeal of AB 5, restoring the rights of workers to work when, where, and how the please.