When it comes to sensible laws, California doesn’t rank anywhere other than near the bottom of the barrel. But their controversial Assembly Bill 5, or AB5 for short, may help the Golden State to the dubious honor of the worst law ever conceived.
If you haven’t kept up with the madness, AB5 aims to reclassify wrongly labeled independent contractors as employees. For both sides of the employee/employer fence, the new bill has serious implications. Primarily, employers can no longer classify any worker as a contractor, thus avoiding paying costly benefits such as health insurance.
For the reclassified worker, AB5 means that he/she must commit to more stringent professional requirements. Under AB5, for instance, workers may be required to work on premise (because they’re employees). Furthermore, the scope of the work is now subject to increased scrutiny and management (again, because they’re employees).
Finally, the kicker is that companies may require certain shifts. Unlike independent contractors that have the privilege of setting their schedules, now that critical task belongs to the employer.
The tragedy here – among several – is that lawmakers could have drafted AB5 as an opt-in solution. Those who want government protection can have it. But those who don’t should be able to choose their way of life. However, this ridiculous bill ultimately suggests that the government – not you — knows what’s best for you.
Even Some Liberals Are Mad at AB5
One of the many things that drives me absolutely crazy about liberals is their smugness. They don’t mind imposing crazy, nonsensical laws, so long as those laws don’t affect them. But with AB5, they finally created a monster that’s truly tested their political identity.
Back in September of this year, Vox contributor Alexia Fernández Campbell characterized AB5 as “a victory for workers everywhere.” Ironically, Vox’s parent company, Vox Media, later announced that it will cut hundreds of jobs because of the restrictive law.
I hope this law caught many snobby liberals sleeping and it’s likely that it did. Primarily, AB5 targeted so-called gig economy companies like Uber and Lyft. But under its many provisions, the bill also imposed a 35-article limit on individual freelance writers (thankfully, those who own or operate as a business entity are exempt).
Because of this strange and capricious limitation, many companies had no choice but to dismiss their California-based paid contributors. Now, I don’t see as much virtue-signaling going on, expect by those who (predictably) are not affected by the law.
But this should be a lesson for anyone: those who would give up essential liberty…for safety (in this case, employee benefits) deserve neither liberty nor safety.