An official with the Pasadena Symphony and Pops told Pasadena Now that the nonprofit organization is watching an Assembly vote scheduled for today that could overturn a law limiting freelancer’s ability to work.
AB 5 prevents freelancers from contributing more than 35 submissions to a single outlet a year. The law applies to artists, producers, engineers, musicians, journalists, publicists, managers, music video creators, dancers and background vocalists.
Local newspapers, including the Pasadena Weekly and the Pasadena Independent largely depend on freelancers.
Local Assemblyman Chris Holden and state Senator Anthony Portantino voted for the bill.
“The bill has had more of an effect on other organizations,” said Lora Unger, CEO of the symphony. “We are waiting to see what comes in the vote tomorrow, and we are hopeful that Sacramento will make the right decision that will be helpful to all.”
AB 1928 would repeal AB 5. Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Granite Bay) and Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Murrieta) claim that AB 5 has caused harm to workers and companies in California and should be done away with.
In a letter penned to the state Assembly Kiley said, “So far this year, legislators have introduced 33 bills amending, narrowing, or overhauling AB 5. Everyone at the Capitol recognizes the law is causing widespread hardship. Even the author is proposing major changes. But none of these bills has an urgency clause. That means relief will be delayed until at least next year.
For Californians whose professional relationships are severed or businesses shuttered in the meantime, that’s too late.” he added.
Last month, the Sierra Madre Playhouse was forced to cancel a youth production of Charlotte’s Web due to the law.
Changes made to comply with the law added $38,000 to the production of the budget.
“The new reality that we face as a non-profit arts organization is one that some 28 other Intimate Theaters in Los Angeles County face, as do other small performing arts companies,” said Artistic Director Christian Lebano, in a prepared statement after the play was canceled.
AB 5, went into effect on January 1, and is based on the California Supreme Court decision that significantly tightens regulations on how businesses classify workers as either independent contractors or actual employees. It was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsome in late 2019.
The law which was seen by some as a way for workers to obtain full-time employment in what is now being termed a “gig economy.” an economy in which people are working one or more part-time jobs to make ends meet because they can’t find full-time employment.
According to the states guidelines to be considered an independent contractor a worker must be free of the hirer’s control, do work that is “outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business” and be established in a trade similar to the work being performed.
This means that businesses who utilize independent contractors must pay out the benefits packages that come with hiring them as full-time employees.
Although seen by some state lawmakers and contractors as a route to financial security it presents problems for smaller enterprises who simply cannot afford the pay and benefits package.