From the Winter 2020 edition of California Publisher

CNPA’s governmental affairs staff recently viewed a tweet from non-CNPA member Willits Weekly in which it announced the newspaper had suspended its Jan. 9 edition “due to AB 5.”

Tom Newton Executive Report 2019

Assembly Bill 5 (Gonzalez) became effective Jan. 1, 2020. The legislation codified and expanded to California workers, with exceptions for workers associated with certain industries, the California Supreme Court’s Dynamex decision. That decision established the ABC test for determining whether an individual is an independent contractor or employee. The inability of businesses and contractors to comply with the B prong of the test — “that the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business” — will impact the work relationships and livelihoods of thousands of Californians.

AB 5 creates a double whammy for the news industry by harming both the creation of content by freelance journalists and the distribution of newspapers by independent contract carriers, even though CNPA was able to muscle through AB 170 (Gonzalez) on the last night of the 2019 legislative session to give the industry an additional year to figure out how to broadly distribute newspapers and stay in business at the same time.

California Publisher Winter 2020 Page1

In its tweet, the Weekly explains that AB 5 “makes our business model illegal.” The tweet continues, “Our freelancers, all local residents, don’t want or need fulltime jobs with benefits (they’re retired and on Medicare, have benefits already through another job or spouse, or have their own non-employer-based health insurance), they are happy to have an outlet for their creative work, they get a good hourly rate, and their payments are properly reported to the IRS as 1099 payments as required.”

The tweet goes on to say neither AB 5’s 35-submission cap for freelancers nor its so-called business-to-business alternative in which each freelancer must have “all the trappings of a business” will work for their newspaper and the community it serves. The newspaper said it will publish a Jan. 16 edition “to tell our (AB 5) story.”

CNPA is interested in stories like this one about the impact of AB 5, both good and bad, on California businesses, independent workers and their families. It has created a new website — AB5stories.com — to allow businesses and workers to tell their AB 5 stories. All submissions and submitter contact information will be made available to the news members of CNPA so members can better inform the public about the impact of AB 5 on their communities.

Your governmental affairs staff will also use these stories to fight for common-sense changes to AB 5 so members can continue to create solid journalism and distribute it widely in their communities.

CNPA urges members to put an AB5Stories.com button on their website and otherwise direct readers to the website. Staff hopes journalists from member news organizations will use the site to contact sources that want their stories told to a larger audience that includes the state Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom.

As always, contact me anytime at 916-288-6015.