Freelancers Overwhelmingly Oppose AB5

Is AB5 helpful or harmful? The poll results are in.

Freelancers in California were hit with Assembly Bill No. 5 in January, and the bill, which aims to classify a broad class of independent workers as employees, has ended up threatening the livelihoods of freelancers and virtual business owners across the state.

Freelancers and VBOs in California are at risk of being dropped by their clients since the law places heavy fines on businesses that hire independent contractors who are not in compliance. Some have already seen their entire business wiped out, leaving them financially insecure with little to no recourse. 

In December 2019, Contently’s The Freelancer polled 573 freelancers and found that they are very much opposed to the new legislation. Of the respondents, 67 percent have been freelancing for more than five years and 24 percent reside in California. The findings confirmed what the media has been saying: that freelancers are not happy with AB5 in the least. 

One particularly unpopular provision of AB5 caps freelance writers, editors and photographers at just 35 submissions per year per publication. A whopping 88 percent of freelancers oppose this limit on creative submissions, and 82 percent are opposed to caps on freelance submissions of any kind. 

Of those polled, 75 percent say they became freelancers because they prefer it over a full-time job. Freelancers don’t want to be employees. Freelancers and VBOs are happier, healthier, and oftentimes make more money than their traditionally employed counterparts, and despite this fact, lawmakers are trying to force freelancers back into jobs. 87 percent of freelancers believe that lawmakers don’t know enough about freelancing to regulate it. And 90 percent confirm that AB5 could negatively impact their livelihoods. 

Freelancers aren’t necessarily opposed to the government getting involved in their affairs, they just wished lawmakers would redirect their efforts toward the issues freelancers really care about. 78 percent said that there are more important matters that concern freelancers than the ones AB5 addresses. Here’s what freelancers and VBOs really want from the government: 

  • Legal remedies for broken contracts and non-payment

  • Protection from wrongful libel suits

  • Legislation to help freelancers retain rights to their work

  • Tax relief

  • Affordable access to healthcare and other insurance

  • Unemployment insurance and sick leave

Ultimately, the problem with AB5 lies in the disconnect between freelancers and lawmakers on their opposing views of freelancing. AB5 architect Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez seems to believe that freelancing is inherently exploitative based on remarks she’s made. However, freelancers and VBOs don’t view freelancing this way. The majority of freelancers prefer freelancing over a full-time job and believe that freelancing affords them the freedom, flexibility and financial security they need to prosper. 

Here’s the scary truth: similar legislation is being considered in Congress now. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2019, otherwise known as the PRO Act or H.R. 2474, was originally drafted to strengthen unions. Initially, it had nothing to do with freelancers, but it was amended with the provisions of AB5 somewhere along the way. Now freelancers and VBOs across America may face the same damaging effects that are destroying careers in California

The good news is you can do something about it. VBO Nation, created for freelancers by freelancers, has launched an online petition to tell Washington to oppose H.R. 2474 and any other legislation that infringes on independent contractors’ rights to conduct their business.

 If you want to protect your freedom, join us by signing the petition and sending a message to Congress. Freelancers and VBOs are an important voting block, and we have power. Let’s use that power to protect our interests. You can access the petition at https://vbonation.com/petition/ or at change.org. And be sure to share the petition with fellow VBOs and freelancers and those who sympathize with our cause. 

We don’t have to sit back and let Washington regulate our businesses out of existence. We can take action. Join us today.

Chantel Baul

I’m a skilled communicator with more than four years’ experience in digital and print content creation, who has a keen ability to adapt messages for diverse audiences. I have demonstrated proficiency in editorial writing conventions, social media strategy, brand reputation management, and interdisciplinary collaboration. I’m a driven and progressive researcher with an aptitude for storytelling. I'm also a proud Public Affairs Officer in the United States Army Reserve.

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