CALIFORNIA FREELANCER RELIEF BILL SIGNED

For Immediate Release                       Contact: Laura Laing,  [email protected], ASJA President
                                                                                                     
NEW YORK (September 5, 2020): Assembly Bill 2257, legislation drafted to address some of the major shortcomings of AB 5, the current law that has devasted the careers of many freelance writers and photographers in California, was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, September 4. Passed as “urgent” legislation, the changes take effect immediately.

Noteworthy in the new legislation is elimination of the arbitrary 35-submission annual limit for freelance writers and photographers who wanted to retain their status as independent contractors. This draconian provision in AB 5 led many publications to drop their California freelancers. In its place are new requirements that ease, but do not eliminate, the concerns of the freelance community. Under the new law, freelance writers can avoid being classified as employees if they “work under a written contract that specifies the rate of pay, intellectual property rights, and obligation to pay by a defined time,” do not directly replace an employee doing the same work, and do not work primarily at the employer’s place of business. Read the full text of AB 2257 here: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200AB2257.

“Passage of AB 2257 is great news,” ASJA President Laura Laing said. “We want to thank Past President Randy Dotinga, First Amendment Committee Chair JoBeth McDaniel, the other ASJA members who lobbied for changes in the law, and our colleagues at the National Press Photographers Association who joined ASJA’s lawsuit challenging AB 5 in federal court. This is a hard-won victory for the entire freelance community.”

While AB 2257 is an improvement over its predecessor, the new legislation does not address the underlying problem with AB 5, that independent writers and photographers still are treated differently from other groups of freelancers.

“The California Legislature has been busy tinkering with AB 5—the disastrous ban on independent contracting it enacted last year that has crippled freelance journalism and drove Uber and Lyft to the brink of abandoning the Golden State,” explained Jim Manley, one of the Pacific Legal Foundation attorneys representing us in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. “AB 2257—the ‘fix it’ bill just passed to address the many practical problems created by AB 5—restores some of the freedom to freelance long enjoyed by journalists, musicians, interpreters, and many other professionals. And while there is some good news for economic liberty, the fundamental problems remain: the new bill doubles down on the political horse-trading that made AB 5 such a mess to begin with and it still imposes content-based limits on freelancing.”

Read Manley’s complete statement here: https://pacificlegal.org/california-passed-ab2257-trying-to-fix-ab5-but-showed-the-damage-its-causing-freelancers/

The federal lawsuit brought by ASJA and the NPPA challenging this unequal treatment is pending in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, with further briefing scheduled for the fall. In the meantime, Jim Manley added, “California needs to free freelancing by repealing AB 5 entirely. Otherwise, each legislative session will bring a new parade of professionals to Sacramento, begging for relief from the ‘help’ being offered by lawmakers.”

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About ASJA:

Founded in 1948, the American Society of Journalists and Authors is the nation's professional organization of independent nonfiction writers. ASJA membership consists of outstanding freelance writers of magazine articles, trade books, and many other forms of nonfiction writing, each of whom has met ASJA's exacting standards of professional achievement. ASJA brings leadership in establishing professional and ethical standards, and in recognizing and encouraging the pursuit of excellence in nonfiction writing. ASJA headquarters are in New York City. The Society has active regional chapters in a variety of locations. Learn more at www.asja.org.

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