Sen. Ling Ling Chang Fights for California's Newspapers & Freelance Journalists

Monday, January 27, 2020

SACRAMENTO, CA - Senator Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) announced she has co-authored two bills to help newspapers and freelance journalists operate in California by exempting them from Assembly Bill 5, the state’s new anti-independent contracting law.

“AB 5 is creating a mess and punishing independent contractors,” said Senator Chang. “Instead of micromanaging the labor market, we need to reform AB 5 and help California’s newspapers and journalists operate normally. We have to fight for our hardworking individuals if we want to keep a diverse and dynamic economy.”

Senate Bills 867 and 868, coauthored by Senator Chang and introduced by Senator Pat Bates, address separately the concerns of newspapers and freelance journalists. Both bills are currently pending referral to Senate policy committees.

Senate Bill 867

SB 867 would permanently exempt newspaper distributors and carriers from AB 5.

Newspaper publishers argue that AB 5 would eviscerate the newspaper industry because it relies on the independent contractor model to distribute newspapers. Left unfixed, AB 5 could lead to the closing of many local papers by saddling them with additional and unaffordable costs.

Senate Bill 868

SB 868 would exempt freelance journalists from AB 5, which limits freelance journalists to just 35 stories a year if they wish to remain an independent contractor. This arbitrary limit severely affects freelance journalists.

Vox Media, which owns SB Nation, has ended contracts with about 200 California sports writers thanks to AB 5. Only 20 people are becoming part-time or full-time staffers for the sports site.

About AB 5

AB 5 codifies and applies retroactively the 2018 California Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Dynamex Operations W. v. Superior Court, which prohibits independent contracting unless very restrictive conditions are met. This has jeopardized the livelihoods of many Californians who argue that the new law does not account for their unique working conditions and their desire to be independent.

In 2019 Senator Chang voted against AB 5 and co-authored Senate Bill 238, which would have allowed Californians to remain as independent contractors if they so desired. Unfortunately, the Senate Labor Committee blocked SB 238 on a partisan vote.