Gonzalez: “In outlawing freelance journalism in California, it may look like I’m setting fire to the Constitution. But really, I just want to burn down one little alt-weekly. I can’t help it if these fires sometimes get out of control. That’s just the state we live in.”
Hurts to laugh
The article is hilarious (“Journalism: Going, Going, Gonzalez,” SD on the QT, November 1), but I have a somber, boring response to this sassy passage in particular, “But at a press conference yesterday, Gonzalez revealed that a supposed side effect of the legislation — the decimation of news outlets that rely on freelance journalists to exist — was actually the point all along.”
AB5 has numerous side effects...in fact, it’s costing me my translation career. Yesterday morning, I received the first of several emails from long-term translation clients in other states saying they would cease send work starting 1/1/2020 due to the CA Assembly Bill 5 (penned by San Diego Representative Lorena Gonzalez) that reclassifies California’s independent contractors as employees.
My clients stated that their legal departments advised that rather than investigating the nuances of whether the bill affects contractors who are LLCs, sole proprietorships, etc., it is safer to avoid possible trouble altogether and just discontinue contracting to ALL California-based linguists. California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) improperly classifies professional translators, such as myself, as an employee, when in fact I am an independent contractor by choice and work on a freelance basis with multiple clients throughout the US and abroad.
I complete only a few hours of work a month for most of these clients, and it would never make practical sense to be classified as an employee. Another unintended consequence is going to be reduced access for individuals with limited English proficiency who count on professionals like us to provide crucial language services in courts, hospitals, and schools in their native language. I believe this bill was written without adequate consideration of the unintended consequences and is going to have a severe negative economic impact on self-employed people like me who have little voice or recourse.
I have strong suspicions that the intended target companies like Uber or Apple who have more than enough means to convert their shabbily compensated hourly contractors to regular employees will be able to use that same considerable financial and legal juice to find loopholes to continue business as usual. Whereas for an self-employed individual of modest means like myself... I am currently considering moving out of California, the state I love, to keep the job I love, as are numerous other colleagues who operate independently and as small agencies with subcontractors--I don’t think driving out the state’s talented translators and interpreters is the desired economic outcome for this bill, but it will happen.