Vox Media is run by hypocrites. They praised California Assembly Bill 5 for allegedly making workers better off, but later laid off hundreds of their own writers in response to the very same law.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/19/how-law-aimed-uber-lyft-is-hurting-freelance-writers

How a law aimed at Uber and Lyft is hurting freelance writers

December 19, 2019

In September, the left-leaning media website Vox.com ran a triumphant headline about a bill that had just passed the California legislature: “Gig workers’ win in California is a victory for workers everywhere.” Assembly Bill 5, or AB5, would go into effect on Jan. 1, essentially making the gig economy illegal in the state.

AB5 forbids businesses to use contractors unless the companies can pass a stringent requirement known as the “ABC test.” It’s designed to ensure that all workers are classified as employees unless they perform their work independent of supervision, have an established business doing the same sort of work for multiple customers and are doing work that isn’t part of the company’s core business. Meeting one or two of these requirements isn’t enough; you must meet all three.

At the time of AB5’s passage, I noted that its aim was a mite quixotic, given that its primary targets, such as Uber and Lyft, were still unprofitable. If they couldn’t make a profit using drivers as contractors, it was hard to see how they could afford to turn the drivers into staffers with regular schedules, hourly pay and benefits. AB5 seemed more likely to drive these firms out of the state, taking their part-time jobs and their useful services with them. And not just gig-economy companies; in passing, I also noted that AB5 seemed to ban most freelance journalism.

It turned out to be a bit more complicated than that; the legislature had actually created a special exception for journalists, allowing them to write 35 articles annually before they’d be considered employees. That still seemed unworkable to this journalist, and should have to anyone who’s ever been near a newsroom — the law would, for example, make it illegal to use a UCLA professor as a weekly columnist without taking on the prof as an employee.

You can guess what’s coming next, can’t you? With Jan. 1 approaching, Vox Media, parent company of Vox.com, just announced that it will be laying off hundreds of freelancers in California. I mentioned my September remarks above not as a tiresome “I told you so” but to note that the effect on freelance writers isn’t some unanticipated side effect of the law. It was the predictable result of trying to force companies into a 9-to-5 employment model. That model just doesn’t fit a lot of businesses, including the business of those journalists who were inexplicably cheering AB5 — or worse, explaining to freelancers, from the safety of a staff job, that actually the law was good for them.

December 21, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , . Politics. Leave a comment.

California is trying to put freelance journalists out of business

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/california-freelance-journalists-sue-over-204250896.html

California freelance journalists sue over new state law

December 17, 2019

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Freelance writers and photographers on Tuesday filed the second legal challenge to a broad new California labor law that they say could put some independent journalists out of business.

The law taking effect Jan. 1 aims to give wage and benefit protections to people who work as independent contractors. While the public focus has been largely on ride-share companies such as Uber and Lyft, the lawsuit brought by the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Press Photographers Association says the law would unconstitutionally affect free speech and the media.

The lawsuit filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation challenged what it calls an “irrational and arbitrary” limit of 35 submissions each year to each media outlet.

That has “thrown our community into a panic, given that in the year 2020 digital media is a whole different beast than newspapers and journalism of the past,” said Los Angeles-based writer Maressa Brown, who founded California Freelance Writers United in September.

“You could hit 35 (submissions) in a matter of a few weeks, and we don’t feel that should require us submitting a W2, sitting in an office and tethered to a computer and under the oversight of one client,” said Brown, who likes having up to 15 clients at one time. “People are losing clients, income. Their livelihoods are under threat.”

The law establishes the nation’s strictest test for which workers must be considered employees and could set a precedent for other states.

The lawsuit says the freelance restriction draws “unconstitutional content-based distinctions about who can freelance,” noting that “the government faces a heavy burden of justification when its regulations single out the press.”

The Pacific Legal Foundation, a nonprofit libertarian group, filed it in federal court in Los Angeles.

“First, it was the Endangered Species Act, then women on corporate boards, and now the Pacific Legal Foundation is attacking California’s landmark workplace rights law. That should come as no surprise to anyone,” the bill’s author, Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego, said in a statement.

The two associations together have more than 650 members in California. Their lawsuit asks a judge to invalidate the portion of the law that would affect them.

The lawsuit was filed the day after the digital sports media company SB Nation, owned by Vox Media, announced that it would end its use of more than 200 California freelancers, switching instead to using a much smaller number of new employees.

The California law “makes it impossible for us to continue with our current California team site structure,” the company said on its website.

The new law implements a legal ruling last year by the California Supreme Court regarding workers at the delivery company Dynamex. But the Pacific Legal Foundation lawsuit says that ruling would have had little direct effect on professionals engaged in “original and creative” work, like its clients.

The law gives newspaper companies a one-year delay to figure out how to apply to the law to newspaper carriers, who work as independent contractors.

“The bill represents an existential threat to our industry,” said Jim Ewert, general counsel for the California News Publishers Association. “Content doesn’t matter if you can’t put it on peoples’ doorsteps.”

His organization is not involved in the lawsuit, but he said the government “has to be mindful of the impact it is going to have on the freedom of expression.”

The law may be suspect on free speech grounds for singling out a particular classification of worker engaged in expressive activities, Ewert said. And he said this particular facet has the potential to harm what he called “underrepresented voices” that may be more limited in speaking out for minority, low income, LGBT or other communities.

The California Trucking Association last month filed the first challenge to the law on behalf of independent truckers. Uber, Lyft and DoorDash have said they will spend $90 million on a 2020 ballot measure opposing the law if they can’t negotiate other rules for their drivers.

December 18, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Politics. Leave a comment.

San Francisco progressives wage war against women’s right to earn a living

According to this new article from the San Francisco Examiner, the progressives who control San Francisco’s government have ordered strip clubs to treat strippers as employees instead of as independent contractors.

Supporters of this new policy claim that it makes the strippers better off.

However, the strippers themselves say that it has actually made them worse off – so much so, in fact, that many of them have quit their jobs in San Francisco, and sought employment as strippers in other cities that do not have this same policy.

The article cites the following three reasons for how the new policy makes the strippers worse off:

1) The strippers get paid far less. For example, the article states:

A dancer at the Gold Club, who asked to be called Mary, said it had been common for dancers on average to sell around $1,000 in dances a shift and keep $750.

Under the new commission structure at the Gold Club, however, dancers said they keep none of the first $150 they sell in private dances, 40 percent of the next $250 they sell, and 60 percent of sales beyond that.

Some dancers said they must also pay a $100 fee for renting the private room.

Dancers at the Gold Club said they now walk away with only $60 on the first half-hour private dance they sell.

“When I make a customer pay $400 and I see $60 of it, it isn’t computing for me,” Mary said. “We want to do our job, and previously our business was to sell dances. And we still need to make living. But at the same time, where is the incentive?”

2) The strippers no longer get to decide how many days or which days they work each week.

3) When the strippers were independent contractors, they could choose to reject any potential client that they did not want. Now that they are employees, they no longer have this option.

The article also states:

He estimated that 200 dancers have quit their jobs since the change came down at BSC clubs, including Penthouse and Gold Club and said that the change has “dramatically affected the business and the profitability,” costing the clubs “several million dollars” a year.

and

The drastic pay cuts and availability of cheap flights have pushed some dancers to seek work outside of San Francisco, traveling as far as Las Vegas and Reno one or two nights a week while continuing to live in The City.

So there you have it. The elitist progressives, who think they know what’s best for everyone, claim that this new policy makes the strippers better off. However, the strippers themselves claim that this new policy makes them worse off.

 

http://www.sfexaminer.com/208300-2/

New rules for contractors have unexpected consequences for The City’s strip clubs

January 2, 2019

As some 30 dancers were handed the first employee paychecks ever issued to them by the Penthouse Club one evening in early November, a wave of panic swept the popular North Beach strip club.

“I opened mine in the locker room, and I was shocked,” said a former Penthouse dancer who asked to be identified as Jane. “All the other girls were also freaking out. Me and my friends decided right then that we were done. That was the final straw.”

Historically classified as independent contractors, the dancers were used to walking out of the club’s doors with cash each night — often hundreds of dollars — after their shifts ended. That changed suddenly when clubs across The City began enforcing a California Supreme Court ruling from April in an unrelated industry that set new standards for determining whether or not workers should be classified as employees.

The decision has shaken up the gig economy, but is also having an effect in unexpected places, such as in the hair salons and the adult entertainment industry, where workers have traditionally not been considered employees.

At local clubs, the move to convert dancers to employee status is causing an exodus, with many of them leaving San Francisco establishments.

“This whole business will be completely ruined. The whole point about being a stripper is you go in, get fast cash, no one knows how you’re getting it, it’s not documented and it’s not taken from you,” said a single mother who gave her name as Darla, who also recently cut ties with Penthouse Club. Like other dancers The San Francisco Examiner spoke with for this story, she asked to maintain anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Club owners say the changes are costing them as well.

A sign posted mid-October in the dancers’ dressing room at the Gold Club in the South of Market neighborhood said the club “felt that it was protecting your right and freedom to be an independent contractor.”

“However, as a result of the lawsuits and ongoing demands by the suing dancers and their attorneys, the club is now being compelled by Court order to eliminate the independent contractor option and require all dancers to become the club’s employees,” the sign read.

Axel Sang, marketing director of BSC, confirmed in an email to the Examiner that the dancers were formerly contractors but are now “club employees being paid an hourly wage and commission on dance sales.”

“The BSC-managed clubs now have matching payroll taxes, unemployment compensation, workman’s compensation, Healthy San Francisco costs, Affordable Care Insurance costs, and SF sick leave pay for several hundred new employee entertainers in addition to the hourly wage,” he wrote.

He estimated that 200 dancers have quit their jobs since the change came down at BSC clubs, including Penthouse and Gold Club and said that the change has “dramatically affected the business and the profitability,” costing the clubs “several million dollars” a year.

“A substantial reduction in the number of entertainers performing as well as the substantial increased payroll and other costs makes it very difficult to generate profits,” Sang said.

The California Supreme Court decision pushing the changes in the business came out of a lawsuit brought by two drivers for Dynamex, a same-day delivery and logistics company that converted its drivers to independent contractors in 2004. Under the ruling, workers may now be considered employees if they perform work within the usual course of the company’s business, said David Peer, a labor attorney in Carlsbad who has written about the Dynamex ruling.

“If you are running a strip club, you would think that the dancers are performing work within the usual course,” Peer said. “If the club owners want to play it safe, they should certainly be paying minimum wage and following the wage and hour rules that most organizations follow when they hire an employee.”

Lawsuits alleging improper classification of exotic dancers predate the Dynamex ruling, according to Harold Lichten of Lichten & Liss-Riordan, a Boston law firm representing Uber drivers who claim the rideshare company misclassified them.

“When you improperly characterize someone as an independent contractor you don’t have to pay social security tax, unemployment tax, minimum wage or overtime,” Lichten said, adding that the incentives were “incredibly great” for companies to “misclassify people because they were saving so much money at the workers’ expense.”

Lichten said the Dynamex ruling became leverage in ongoing litigation against Uber, and noted that it should also come as a benefit to the dancers, who now are now eligible for the protections afforded to all employees.

“The concern is that some companies may lower the amount they pay them to make up their losses,” Lichten said. “That would be unfortunate. But on balance, it’s much better to be an employee because you have legal protections.”

However the dancers interviewed by the Examiner said that while they are now entitled to minimum wage, benefits and the option to unionize, the reclassification has done more harm than good.

“Not one of those girls had a check for two weeks over $300. There was a lot of upset. A lot of girls packed up to leave that night. I was one of those girls,” Darla said.

“I can go work at McDonald’s for $15 an hour, and not take off my clothes, and not put up with the crap I put up with as a dancer,” Darla added, noting that all of the Penthouse dancers “have considered leaving.”

The vast majority of the strip clubs in San Francisco — 10 out of 12 — are owned or managed by BSC Management. The only exceptions are the Mitchell Brothers O’Farrell Theatre and The Crazy Horse.

Sang said the company is not paying dancers more than minimum wage because they “are paid commissions on dance sales which in most cases far exceed the hourly wage.”

But dancers said the commission structure for private dances has also been significantly cut.

Policies can vary for each club, but before the reclassification, dancers said if they arrived to their shift early enough they would keep 75 percent of their dance sales — which is where they made the majority of their money.

A dancer at the Gold Club, who asked to be called Mary, said it had been common for dancers on average to sell around $1,000 in dances a shift and keep $750.

Under the new commission structure at the Gold Club, however, dancers said they keep none of the first $150 they sell in private dances, 40 percent of the next $250 they sell, and 60 percent of sales beyond that.

Some dancers said they must also pay a $100 fee for renting the private room.

Dancers at the Gold Club said they now walk away with only $60 on the first half-hour private dance they sell.

“When I make a customer pay $400 and I see $60 of it, it isn’t computing for me,” Mary said. “We want to do our job, and previously our business was to sell dances. And we still need to make living. But at the same time, where is the incentive?”

Some dancers also feared being classified as employees would mean not being able to pick and choose which customers to serve.

Joe Carouba, an owner of BSC, declined to speak with the Examiner for this story because of pending litigation. But in a deposition he gave in October in connection with a lawsuit filed by Olivia Doe, he said he “firmly believed” dancers should be independent contractors so they can assert more control over which customers they will and won’t serve.

“I think they should control their own sexuality, they should control their own bodies,” he said. “The difference there being, of course, if you’re an employee, you don’t have a choice who you perform for, as an independent contractor you get to choose how you perform, whom you perform for, and what level you’re comfortable at.”

Dancers said many of them were poorly informed and caught unaware when the new contracts were rolled out.

Jane said she was one of the first Penthouse dancers to sign the new contract amid confusion, and wasn’t given a copy or time to review it.

At the Gold Club, Mary said management called dancers into the office in the middle of their shifts, still dressed in bikinis and eight-inch heels, and told them to look at a new contract on a computer screen and immediately sign it. Some dancers had been drinking during their shift, she said.

“We were given no opportunity to look at the contracts or have paper copies beforehand,” Mary said. “There’s really been no communication, no transparency.”

Sang denied the allegations, and said cameras were installed to protect the clubs from legal challenges over the new contracts.

“Signs were posted clearly that the areas were under video and audio surveillance. Each contract signing on video and audio clearly shows each entertainer was required to fully read the contract before signing,” Sang wrote in an email. “On camera, each entertainer was clearly given a copy of the contracts that they signed.”

Dancers said morale has plummeted at clubs across The City. Many are unhappy with how management announced and rolled out the change, but fear losing their jobs if they complain.

Because BSC has a virtual monopoly on San Francisco strip clubs, dancers said if they are blacklisted at one club, they are afraid they won’t be able to work anywhere else in The City.

While dancers across the country have sued clubs saying they should have been classified as employees instead of independent contractors, those who spoke with the Examiner said not everyone wants to be an employee. There are advantages to being independent contractors — so long as they are actually treated as contractors.

Mary said being treated as a contractor would mean being able to negotiate dance fees with clients directly rather than have the club set prices, and to pick which dates and times to work. Previously, as contractors, dancers could pick which days to work, but not which hours.

“Contractors should have autonomy,” she said.

An often-touted perk of being an employee is access to benefits, such as health insurance. But to qualify, employees must work enough hours to be considered full-time — which isn’t practical for most people dancing at a strip club. Dancers said even working three days a week is physically exhausting.

“You do what you need to do to maintain your boundary while making sure they have a good time. It takes a lot of emotional labor to do that,” Mary said. “I don’t think people realize that’s the most difficult part of our job. It’s not really talked about in the public perception of stripping.”

The drastic pay cuts and availability of cheap flights have pushed some dancers to seek work outside of San Francisco, traveling as far as Las Vegas and Reno one or two nights a week while continuing to live in The City.

“Girls are scrambling to find a job to fit their lifestyle or even make ends meet,” Jane said.

 

January 2, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , . Economics, Police state, Politics. 1 comment.

California liberals “help” protect workers’ rights by causing them to lose their jobs

In order to protect workers’ rights in California, a bunch of liberals wanted many independent contractors to be reclassified as employees. The state Supreme Court ruled in favor of this. The intent of everyone involved was good.

But the results were disastrous. As is often the case with good intentions, there are “unintended consequences” which ended up hurting the very workers that the liberals had been trying to help.

This video is from the Sacramento affiliate of CBS News. It shows how all the employees of a small business ended up losing their jobs because liberals wanted to “help” them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VZnucGhjtg

September 18, 2018. Tags: , , , . Economics, Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.