Freelance Journalists File Suit Against New Law in California

Yahoo Finance is reporting that a group of freelance journalists have filed suit against the state of California over a new law that, in effect, has outlawed their profession. The law, which was originally designed to attack the gig economy as exemplified by rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft, also limited the number of articles that freelance writers living in California to 35 per year for each media outlet. The effect of the law has been to make it impossible for freelancers, who might write as many articles in a month, to earn enough money to live.

“Freelance writers and photographers on Tuesday filed the second legal challenge to a broad new California labor law that they say could put some independent journalists out of business.

“The law taking effect Jan. 1 aims to give wage and benefit protections to people who work as independent contractors. While the public focus has been largely on ride-share companies such as Uber and Lyft, the lawsuit brought by the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Press Photographers Association says the law would unconstitutionally affect free speech and the media.”

The lawsuit was filed in the wake of a decision by SB Nation, a subsidiary of Vox Media, to terminate its relationship with about 200 freelancers, replacing them with a smaller number of employees. Ironically, Vox proclaimed the new law as a “victory for workers everywhere.”

The Pacific Legal Foundation, a non-profit libertarian group, filed the suit on behalf of the writers and photographers. The suit demands that the provisions covering creative workers, including writers and photographers, be removed from the law out of first amendment considerations.

Reason Magazine suggests that the excuse that the outlawing of freelance writing was an “unintended consequence” of the law was lame.

“A lot of folks are now describing freelancer firings as an ‘unintended consequence’ of AB5. But this facet of the bill was well-known and discussed beforehand.

“It’s not an ‘unintended consequence’ so much as one that folks who wanted to stick it to Uber and Lyft (or at least get press for pretending to stick it to Uber and Lyft) deemed an acceptable consequence.

“Mainstream politicians and pundits love to cite ‘unintended consequences’ when their preferred policies cause harm in the exact ways libertarians said they would. It’s a brilliant way to get credit for trying to Do! Something! about a problem while absolving one’s side of any blame for the negative consequences of that action.”

A column in the Los Angeles Times takes a different view of the new law, placing the blame on the firings of freelance writers squarely on the publications for which they used to work for. The article claims that media outlets such as Vox are simply being cheap, refusing to hire freelancers as employees with full benefits. The piece dismisses claims that such publications are operating on a shoestring and cannot afford to hire a lot of full-time staff.

The column also refers to the Pacific Legal Foundation as “having a history of defending employer interests” and of “having a disdain for government regulations.” The foundation was founded by billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife in 1973, described as “one of the most rabid right-wingers of his time.”

The article concludes by advising freelancers to not blame the law for their sudden unemployment, but rather greedy media outlets that refuse to pay them a living wage with generous benefits.

Many freelancers actually enjoy the freedom that not being tied to one employer entails. They can adjust their writing to just about any subject, not just ones that a particular publication runs. With old-line newspapers cutting back or even going under and online media coming and going, many freelancers like the freedom of working for more than one publication. The idea is that if one market dries up, there are always a number of others to get work from.

The New York Post notes that the anti-freelancer law may be coming to New York. A law similar to that that was enacted in California was recently introduced in the New York state legislature by New York State Sen. Robert Jackson and New York Assemblywoman Deborah Glick. However, the same article suggests that provisions might be included that would exempt freelance writers and other creative people.

49 thoughts on “Freelance Journalists File Suit Against New Law in California

  1. We need to clean up the streets of California to make California Holy and Righteous. Trump says to do so along with Franklin Graham and etc..

  2. No wonder so many Californians are leaving for other “Constitutional” states every day. The California government has succeeded in ruining what was once a wonderful place to live into garbage dumps, slums, and public outdoor lavatories. The Governor might as well hand the whole mess back to Mexico!

      1. A lot of U.S. military personnel that are or have been stationed there agree. Make Commiewood the bullseye.
        Maryland runs a close second.

  3. Not surprising. California is run by anti Constitutionalists. Newsom, his relative Pelosi, Mad Maxine Waters among others Until they’re voted out of office, This state is useless

  4. Just another Socialist program that will hurt more people, by far, than it will help! Most, if not all, the people working this type of piecework are just trying to survive, many of whom are doing this type of work to supplement their other job. This eliminates the supplementary job forcing many back to their lower income. Shear madness!

    But, hey, the elites have our tax money, and vote salary increases for themselves, so they don’t care about the people! Typical Socialists/Communists, they get what they want on the backs of the people!

  5. California is the state of evil. The President should renounce California from our union. Drop it off the United States and let it be a country of its own. California is doing everything it can to hurt any and all citizens, acting against the Constitution and entering into pure lawlessness. I sure won’t miss it.

    1. The GDP of California would be 5th in the world on it’s own, hamper the US GDP as a result and then incur more expense for the rest of us in the form of cargo ships having to navigate around South America or through the Panama Canal to reach a new US port to offload.The unconstitutional acts California commits need to be fought, not given in to. Look at the federal government not allowing them to enter into a pollution agreement with Canada. The socialists just need to be dropped off in a true socialist country like Venezuela, China or Korea and see how they truly like their way of after that.

  6. Virginia has citizens “up in arms”, to coin a phrase after they blatantly announced they are going to criminalize citizens possessing a firearm. Citizens are prepared to stand up for their constitutional 2nd amendment rights. Not unlike standing up for “freedom of speech”, and protecting the 1st
    Amendment right.

    1. Each County in every State should have Sanctuary Status for the Constitution, and Bill of Rights, since every one of these Amendments needs to be protected from the Democrapic Chainsaw. This will show you just how far we have fallen; that we need to protect the Documents that were initially written to protect us.

  7. Well, well, well socialism is no longer hiding. This law coming from California is not surprising it is the first step to control of all media. Make sure only the journalist that government approves is writing. Gag all who might see things for what they are. Government takeover of business through the use of irrational, lame laws. California you get what your politicians wanted control and power. This is really only the start, your homeless problem is another sign of socialism, destruction of the middle class. People who are interested only in finding shelter and food will pay no attention to politics and the politicians becomes tyrannical despots.

      1. What can be done? Get people to stop voting for people like Pelosi, Schiff, Waters, Feinstein, Boxer, Newsome. Enact some real change and get new lawmakers in there who actually will defend the Constitution and serve their people. But not enough people do that. You have the millionaire elite out there who want to keep the swamp rats in power to protect them. Once the people get to the point where they won’t take it any more then change will happen. But sadly those people are leaving the state and undocumented illegal aliens are filling their spots.

  8. Wow! Another example of our politicians Not clearly doing what the voters want.They truly know what is good for us and are smarter than us.I say and write this with extreme sarcasm.

  9. It’s about time, not only the state of California, but all the other states start passing laws against this Liberal liars from the news media. They need to start going back to the unbiased method of declaring the news. I’m one of millions of people who don’t listen to the Liberal news media anymore, because there is no fair news, but lies. The mainstream news media is dead.

    1. We haven’t watched the Television News in years. The last daily News coverage on Television was in my home after the Hijacking, and attacks on the World Trade Center, and Pentagon. It’s been even longer since we had a Newspaper delivered to our home. What’s the point? It’s all lies, anyway. When I get a Newspaper subscription card in the mail, I send it back to them, with the note on it saying, “No Thanks. I won’t be wrapping any fish.”

  10. Journalism has DIED!!! Freelance Jounalists probably can and will do a better job reporting the truth than the elite media types anyway!!! Maybe that’s the reason why they DON’T want them to publish their pieces?!!!

    1. The funny thing is that everyone cheers when they attack the 2nd amendment but they are outraged and disgusted when they attack the 1st amendment. The bill of rights was not A La Carte. You do not get to pick and choose what is protected. Irregardless, all the politicians are guilty of violating the Constitution. But go ahead and keep putting them back in office.

  11. I agree with everything that’s been said. What in the world do these people think they’re going to do with every one of us…. are we going to end up being arrested eventually if we don’t tow the line with a law that was passed under our noses? Or will it be our grandchildren??

  12. Why would people be leaving California because of these, and other laws? The answer is to get the people responsible for this garbage out of office. Write to congress, make petitions, don’t keep putting the people back in a job they don’t deserve, and haven’t earned. They are not leaders, they are supposed to be public servants. Shame on them. What’s next? You won’t be able to paint a picture, or make something of art, without it being freelance?

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