Fight for Freelancers

California assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez is the author of Assembly Bill 5, aka AB5, that attempts to reclassify gig workers as W2 employees. There is some merit to this effort. However, the focus on freelance writers in AB5 shows a distinct lack of understanding about freelance writing. AB5 also reflects a serious lack of supporting research for applying conditions on freelance writers that are not put on any other type of work.

Understanding Freelance Writing

For many freelance writers, freelance writing means freedom. Freedom takes different forms for different people. For me freelance writing was the solution to escape smoke-filled offices. After graduating college I worked for two state agencies. One of these agencies was a state health department. Back then, smoking in the health department was common. Hard to believe, but true. Despite the daily assault from second-smoke, I was instrumental in developing a state-wide epidemiology reporting system — the first such statewide system in the United State. Subsequent jobs, including temporary work positions, were also polluted by second-hand smoke. The smoke was more than an annoyance. The smoke was a health hazard to me beyond what we now know about second-hand smoke. I had documented allergic reactions to second-hand smoke. For example, one temporary office job with smoke brought on bronchial spasms and a trip to the emergency room, then a fight with the employer through the state’s labor and industries unit about who was going to pay for the ER visit. I told the temporary work agency upfront that I was allergic to smoke and they did not do their due diligence to place me in a smoke-free workplace. In the end I won that battle.

The smokey work solution for me was to work at home so I could control my work environment. Thus begun many years of hard work learning to write better and eventually getting into a a top-notch national writers organization. Along the way I wrote for national and regional publications. I wrote for one of the regional monthly publications for 12 years, sometimes several articles in each monthly issue.

Lack of supporting research