Vox Media to cut hundreds of freelance jobs ahead of changes in California gig economy laws

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Jaybird

Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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124 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    When I was smack dab in the middle of first transitioning into computer work from the restaurant biz, I was hired as a temp worker. I was pleased to get the job because I knew that I was good, and that I had skills and all I needed was a little OJT to shine. I was doubly pleased when I heard that Congress had passed “Permatemp” legislation which meant that I wasn’t going to be a temp forever.

    Seriously, Microsoft was *SPECTACULARLY* jerky. They had “temp” workers for years and years and years but those so-called “temporary” workers had no on-ramp to get hired by Microsoft and get the Microsoft bennies that were seen as The Holy Grail.

    I got picked up by a Global Conglomerate (that had stuff like ice cream socials and awesome health care and subsidized cafeteria food) and I knew that I just had to keep my nose clean and show up and do a good job and I’d be an employee before long.

    Then one of my co-workers mentioned that he was going away for 3 months but he’d be back. He was getting laid off. BUT! They were going to pay his unemployment and give him a decent bonus and buy him a game system. Why?, I asked, confused. Well, Congress had passed a law. He had to be laid off or else the Global Conglomerate would be forced to hire him as an employee. But after 3 months, he could be a temp again.

    Wait. What?

    My temp contract came and went and I got let go but, almost immediately, I got a phone call from a managed services company and they asked me if I wanted to be an employee for them and I would be their employee doing contract work for the Global Conglomerate. So I went back to sit at the same desk in the Global Conglomerate that I had been sitting at a few months prior, except now I was an employee for a Managed Services company.

    And I watched my jobs be outsourced to Singapore, one at a time. First application support, then frontline OS support, then Oracle support, then OS Core support, then Blackberry support, and then, finally, Print support. I (somehow) managed to surf my way through all of these jobs before the last one disappeared and the last managed services job got shipped overseas.

    And no temps were harmed. There weren’t any, anymore.

    That’s what I thought of, when I read this CNBC story.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

      People always think they can legislate such problems away without first changing culture…Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Jaybird says:

      I never really understood why Microsoft had a bunch of long-term contractors. The naive answer is “so they don’t have to pay for benefits,” but they didn’t have to pay benefits to regular employees, either. Maybe there was some legal minimum that was required, but it was far less than the benefits Microsoft actually provided. And some of the contractors got paid pretty well. Granted, I was fresh out of college, but I was getting paid pretty well, and there were rank-and-file contractors getting paid twice what I was, assuming a 40-hour week. So there was room to hire the contractors as regular employees and claw back the cost of benefits via lower cash wages.

      IIRC they also had contractors and regular employees doing the same type of work. Why were some people hired as contractors and others as regular employees? Visa issues? Regular employees interviewed better? No idea.

      If it makes you feel any better, the benefits weren’t really that great unless you got sick a lot. My stock options were a bust, and I barely used my health insurance. The 401(k) match was 3%, so that was nice, but not really life-changing.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        My wife hires contractors to work alongside FTEs for a number of reasons, chiefly being that contractors are, to an extent, disposable. C-suite declares that headcount be reduced by X, contractors go first.

        The key here, however, is that my wife makes no bones about this. She does not give contractors false hope about becoming FTEs. They get paid very well, get valuable experience, but it is not a “try it before you buy it” situation. Contractors are used for specific reasons.

        AND YET! Despite this very forward, very CLEAR discussion about the nature of the contract work she hires for (a discussion the staffing agency also has with workers), there is always some percentage of contractors who engage in self-delusion that they are simply on an extended job interview, and if they work really hard, they will get to be an FTE.

        Those people are partly why laws like this happen (the other part are employers & staffing agencies who are not honest about the nature of the contractor relationship).Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          self-delusion that they are simply on an extended job interview, and if they work really hard, they will get to be an FTE.

          Out of curiosity, is that really 100% off the table? If she hires a temp who turns out to perform at a level well above the average FTE, it seems like it would be stupid not to hold on to him or her. Or are temps and FTEs hired for different types of tasks?Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            It’s not off the table, but it requires either an open FTE position that needs filling, or approval for an increase in FTE headcount. So if she has a stellar contractor, and an FTE position opens up, she strongly encourages them to apply. But the fact that you are a contractor does not mean you are on some path to being an FTE.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              How many other clients do these “independent contractors” have, I wonder?

              Or are they all Tom Hagens, working for one very special client?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Oh, they work full time for one client (AFAIK). The thing is, there is no deception or suggestion regarding the nature of the job. They sign up with a staffing agency, they get paid a premium for being a contractor*, and they understand that should a headcount reduction be implemented, they are the first to go.

                *Typically they are married where the spouse has good benefits, so the contractor can afford to not have a job with said benefits. The higher paycheck is more valuable.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Right, which is typical.

                These are employees in every sense of the word, but the labor market is such that their bargaining position is weak and they are forced to accept a deal like this.

                They are NOT independent contractors who choose to forego the benefits of being an employee.

                Which as you say leads to laws like this.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                That is NOT what I said. I fail to see how you even get that from what I said.

                These are people who seek out positions like this because they neither want nor need the benefits that come with being an FTE. They want the fatter paycheck, and in exchange for that, they accept less security and benefits.

                Yes, there are people with weak bargaining power who take contract work as a last resort, so they can bring in money. But those are not the only type of contract workers out there, and I’ve not seen anything to suggest to me that those are even the majority of contractor workers out there.

                Which makes me wonder if people aren’t getting all upset over contractor work because of a handful of noisy individuals and a media starved for stories that sound outrageous (because ‘Woe is me, the big bad corporation won’t give me exactly want I want! Waaaah!” plays well among certain audiences)?

                But do you understand that there are people out there who actually seek out such contracting work because they see it as more valuable than being an FTE? They do not want to be FTEs. And we don’t hear much from them because they are content, and content people generally don’t whine to media outlets that are pushing a specific angle.

                Do you get that, because usually when we have these discussions, you don’t seem to acknowledge that the set of contractors is not wholly populated by people who are miserable being contractors?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I would like to know how many independent contractors actually have a more lucrative position than an FTE.

                If they were offered a choice how many would opt for FTE?

                If these were people who truly valued freedom and flexibility, it seems odd that they choose to have one single client.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                It depends on the type of contracting they prefer. Contracting can be open or exclusive. But yes, typically, those who enter into exclusive contract agreements get paid more than a FTE. The total compensation package (insurance, education, retirement) is often less than that of a FTE, which is one of the reasons a contractor is attractive, but if you already have, or aren’t interested in the benefits package, if that package does not bring much value to you, then the extra cash you get paid is worth more.

                This is a pretty straightforward economic calculation.

                Why do you default assume it is some kind of nefarious devil’s bargain? What is your proof beyond the woeful cries of the squeaky wheels?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Because it is almost always the employer who pushes for it. Rare is the FTE who decides to go the other way.

                I would really like to see it quantified to see overall if contractors come out ahead.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Ahead by what standard? Yours or theirs?

                This is what matters. Poll the contractors. Ask them how satisfied they are with their current contract(s), or would they prefer to be FTEs? Has anyone done that kind of poll? Be interesting to see.

                If contractors are, by and large, satisfied, then we have no business second guessing them, or passing laws restricting them because a handful of people are not satisfied.

                If they are not satisfied, if they truly would prefer to be FTEs, then we can have a discussion as to the best way to get employers to align to what labor wants.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                People vote with their feet.

                If FTEs are demanding to become independent contractors then I guess they are coming out ahead.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Keep twisting my argument, it only shows how willing you are to argue in bad faith.Report

              • I’ve met a few. They had all left FTE positions to consult because (a) they wanted new problems every six months to a year, (b) they had a great set of contacts, and (c) they were damned good at their specialty and commanded rates that reflected that. In some of those cases, brought in to be the lead tech person because internal politics precluded putting any of the FTEs in that position.

                From time to time in my tech career I was asked why I was an employee instead of taking that much more lucrative consulting route. I’m a crappy salesman.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Michael Cain says:

                What does the law actually say about such job, though? Does it say “No contractors, ever, no matter what,” or does it say, “No contractors that are really working full time. You’re just too cheap to pay benefits?”

                Also, we’re talking a lot about white collar contract work, less about Uber and things of that nature. How many people fall in the one category versus the other?Report

              • Yeah, the people I’m talking about really are less contractors and more boutique consultants. And can fend for themselves. It’s the armies of people at the bottom who aren’t making much, aren’t getting benefits, and aren’t getting much in the way of job security.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

                Exactly. You can’t just say, “contracting is bad”, because there are different kinds of contract work out there. It’s important to be specific and target the bad stuff. Targeting piecework contracting seems like going after the wrong kind of contract work.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d says:

                Part of the problem is people trying to force A into B. Uber never set itself up as a career path, it was always supposed to be about just extra spending cash, etc. (originally it was supposed to be a way to encourage carpooling, not taxi service).

                Yes, you and Chip have a legitimate criticism for employers who want FTEs but don’t want to pay for the benefits and aren’t willing to pay a wage premium (I remember those jobs, where the contractor made $10/hr, the employer paid the agency $15/hr, and the FTE was making $20/hr plus benefits). There is a legitimate market for that kind of work, but it should be the exception for when work exceeds staffing levels, not a wide scale HR solution.

                Which is why laws can be a problem, since they tend to be blunt. If the law is meant to stop cheap ass employers, but it winds up harming people who want such contract work, then it’s a bad law.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I guess they’re talking about this law: https://www.modbee.com/news/business/employment-news/article238049454.html

                It appears it has some exceptions, and will continue to evolve. I suspect with enough effort they can carve out a reasonable law. Maybe. Except the part where politics is messy.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Contracting isn’t bad per se.
                But the journalism industry like many others, appears to be shrinking and eliminating a lot of its labor force.

                In this environment the bargaining power of writers seems very weak.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Contracting isn’t bad per se.

                Thank you!

                In this environment the bargaining power of writers seems very weak.

                Is it the environment, or has the quality of said writers diminished such that they lack the power of yore?

                Chickens… eggs…Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        I don’t know why either. I assume it was a management problem or a stupid accounting tricks problem.

        Department X had a budget with Y dollars available for employees and Z dollars available for temps and that was that.

        The idea of having a special category for “temp” workers is one that makes sense. I’ve had contracts for jobs that were perfect for low-level schlubs and only required about 320 hours to do and weren’t essential enough to make one of the Engineer-3s do and you didn’t want to hire an Engineer-1. Hiring a temp is *PERFECT* for that.

        But having a temp in place for a decade? That’s an abuse of the concept of the “temp”. It results in shit like laws being passed.Report

        • Avatar InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

          A lot of it stems from poor understanding of how the law actually works. I am not a labor attorney but having broadly dealt with the issue in house my experience is that many organizations think all you have to do is have a contract instead of a W2. The reality is that unless the company exercises robust and consistent discipline a lot of low level contractors could probably be determined to be employees if the situation was ever actually subject to a legal analysis. Of course there are all kinds of reasons it rarely is.Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird says:

          I was a “temp” for 13 years. Job description wasn’t sane for a temp but whatever. I got paid significantly more.

          At my current Fortune 500 I was a temp for 3(ish) months as a trial. They liked me, converted me, that involved me taking a pay cut.Report

  2. Avatar Aaron David says:

    So, what’s the line on California going Republican? I thinking 12 years with an over-under of two.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Aaron David says:

      The California vote for the Democratic Candidate was 61% in 2016.

      I don’t see this changing that, overly much. It’s so much easier to blame the Evil Corporate Overlords than the laws.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Aaron David says:

      Unless Republicans do something about their racism, sexism, homophobia, lack of religious tolerance, and xenophobia, never. Its not like Republican dominated places are doing well economically either.Report

    • Avatar Philip H in reply to Aaron David says:

      When Demos get California demoted form the world’s sixth largest economy then people might consider Repubs. Until then its all What ifs and What Abouts.Report

      • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Philip H says:

        Quick, how fast did Venezuala drop from the best economy in SA to what it is now?

        You do know the old adage about how one goes broke, no? Very slowly and then all of a sudden.Report

        • Avatar Philip H in reply to Aaron David says:

          Quick – how fast does data refute your ideas? About this fast:

          https://www.anderson.ucla.edu/images/2017/sites/faculty/review%20publication/graphs/CaliforniaGDP.svg

          You might also remind yourself that California’s Democrats – while liberal have two things going for them Venezuela didn’t. First, California is not an autocratic dictatorship masquerading as a socialistic populist state. And second, unlike Venezuela California has a multisectoral economy that allows it to better weather economic challenges and maintain social services.

          Oh, and there’s the pesky fact that Cali ranks 40th in net federal funding received per capita:

          40. California
          • Net federal funding: $12 per resident
          • Total revenue from fed. gov.: $436.1 billion (the most)
          • SNAP benefit recipiency: 8.9 percent (tied – 12th lowest)
          • Median household income: $71,805 (8th highest)

          Those socialist havens of Virginia and Kentucky rank 1 and 2:

          1. Virginia
          • Net federal funding: $10,301 per resident
          • Total revenue from fed. gov.: $176.8 billion (5th most)
          • SNAP benefit recipiency: 8.1 percent (8th lowest)
          • Median household income: $71,535 (9th highest)

          2. Kentucky
          • Net federal funding: $9,145 per resident
          • Total revenue from fed. gov.: $70.8 billion (19th most)
          • SNAP benefit recipiency: 14.1 percent (8th highest)
          • Median household income: $48,375 (7th lowest)

          so yeah, california is so on the brink of economic collapse.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Philip H says:

            Also too, California is governed by neolibetal Rockefeller Republicans, DBA Democrats.

            Seriously, there are no gulags for capitalists or gay sex re-education camps, despite my numerous suggestions.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Philip H says:

            California has a ton of debt, seriously unfunded pensions, and a strong boom/bust economy that has been enjoying the boom phase for a long time. They won’t have an economic collapse but when they tear up pensions or raise taxes enough to pay for them we might see a polical wave or two.Report

          • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Philip H says:

            A. A huge chunk of California’s wealth comes from tech, not natural resources. Tech can move at any time. If the tech companies feel the pinch from power outages in a way that affects the bottom line, they can pick up and go. At that point, CA is no longer sixth.

            B. Not everyone who lives in the state is employed by tech, nor do they live on the coast and are part of the woke. If 11% of the voters decide enough of this BS, let’s see what the other guy has to offer, Dems go down the tubes in the state. What would make them say that? Possibly the single-party state government that is enacting legislation that kills jobs, cannot provide basic services such as city sanitation, nor keep the lights on. So, that vaunted great economy might not be the be-all-end-all.

            C. WTF are you bringing up fed funding per cap? That has nothing to do with whether or not the state’s bad policies can lead to its financial backbone pulling up stakes.

            D. I used Venezuela as an example of what at first seems an economic miracle ( as V. was touted by more than a few) can quickly turn south once the cash cow has been milked. Is that what is happening with CA right now? Well, that is what I am trying to place a betting line on.

            So, conclusion; that data doesn’t refute anything I said, as it has zero bearing on anything I said.Report

            • Avatar Philip H in reply to Aaron David says:

              California is not an authoritarian dictatorship masquerading as a populist led socialist republic. Venezuela was and is. Big difference. Venezuela made a big bet on oil lasting forever and made decisions about infrastructure, education, and spending that were never in line with their own government projections, much less anyone elses. Cali has never had that problem, even when Arnold was governor. So you betting line is based on a false equivalence that you want to be true because of confirmation bias, not because of actual data or anything substantive.

              And as to the per cap spending data – if Cali were a bastion of socialism as you allude it would be in the top ten or maybe even top 5. Its not, which a statistic that again violates your confirmation bias but also blows a major hoe in your argument.Report

  3. Avatar InMD says:

    The approach strikes me as a really backwards way of attacking this. Contra what Oscar said above, I don’t think it’s a cultural problem so much as a (lack of) economic infrastructure problem. You do something about it by building more of a support structure so that people have alternative ways to get benefits besides employers.Report

  4. Avatar Kazzy says:

    How often were they writing? How much were they making? Seems important to know what these “jobs” looked like.

    I mean, technically they don’t have jobs to lose. They have contracts to provide a service that will be no longer valid. If they had jobs, they’d be employees.Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to Kazzy says:

      I follow the Redskins and Orioles SBNation blogs and check in periodically with blogs for other teams. Obviously not sure who is a contractor and who is an employee but they all seem to have regular writers with multiple posts per day. Most of it is opinion or aggregation as opposed to breaking news but there can be some good analysis.

      You’re an Eagles fan right? You should check out their Bleeding Green Nation blog. I lurk there whenever they suffer a major setback for the hilarious vitriol one would expect.Report

      • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to InMD says:

        The team SBNation blog I follow experienced a lot of turnover a few years ago when Vox pressed a mandate that every writer must get paid. A bunch of writers who were asked to sign a W-9 had an existential moment with pen in hand, asking why am I doing this? Seems like half of them left, and almost all the rest started using their real names, though this was supposedly not required.

        Anyway I always thought it was ironic though understandable that some people may not want the money, which I believe was minimal — not enough to pay for their internet. And of the writers is full-time at Fangraphs, but does a weekly piece from California — we may be about to lose him.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to PD Shaw says:

          This goes back to something I noticed with Anita Sarkeesian/Feminist Frequency: If you do something for love, you’ll do it on evenings and weekends. You’ll think about it in the shower. If you do it for money, you will find excuses to not do it.Report

          • Avatar InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

            An ex girlfriend of mine went pro into music/performance art. She was relatively successful within the context of that sort of thing. Said it was the worst thing she ever did. Her passion became a job.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

            It’s all about the right to exit.

            If you can quit whenever you want, then if you’re staying it’s because you WANT to stay, and if I wanted to stay yesterday then I probably still want to stay today.

            If I have obligations, then there’s no need for me to have a good attitude about it because my attitude doesn’t matter–I got stuff that Must Get Done.

            People talk about the “right to exit” being some shitty libertarian don’t-wanna-pay-taxes, where’s-my-child-porn thing, but it’s a genuinely useful idea…Report

        • Avatar InMD in reply to PD Shaw says:

          Yea similar kind of thing on the ones I follow. I actually was reading Hogs Haven for years before SB Nation was acquired. At that time there were really only 2 writers, both of whom used pseudonyms. One left with the changover, the other started editing/writing under his own name. They also added a bunch of other contributors, all of whom write under their own names and seem to also have day jobs.Report

          • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to InMD says:

            I think the “pay something” mandate to my site came down from Vox just two or three years ago. My recollection was that Vox had a policy that everybody gets paid “something,” and they might have been called on it by someone pointing out that a lot of the writers for team blogs weren’t getting paid. Again, my recollection is that they were told you have to be paid, if you write. But it wasn’t much, one of the writers was a lawyer and referenced how little it was in relation to his hourly rate, but I don’t think I understood what the meant since he didn’t tell us his hourly rate or how many hours he worked.

            JayBird makes it sound like they can all come back now and “not be paid” like in the good old days.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

      Often enough to have included this part in their statements:

      Contractors who wish to continue contributing can do so but “need to understand they will not be paid for future contributions,”

      Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

        I don’t think I agree with the law (I know little about it but tend not to favor such things). But woe-is-meing about “jobs” “lost” should consider some info on what those “jobs” were and what was “lost”.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

          Well, the good news is that they can still do the “job”, they just won’t get paid for it after the 30th time they do it in any given year.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

            I’d be curious to know more about the specific terms of the contractor status. Can they sell what they write to others? Can they write other things for others? Is there a minimum amount they need to produce?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

              Dude, at this point, you have all of the same information that I have.

              Though I admit to thinking about how this is probably worse than it seems while you appear to be thinking about how maybe it’s not as bad as it seems.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well, I don’t know how bad it seems. Contractors are losing contracts (not jobs) and some amount of new jobs are being created. What is offered here sheds little light, but lots of heat.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

                I’ve seen a bunch of people complain about how it will make their own lives worse off.

                I have yet to see a single person say “I expect my life will be improved because of this!”

                (This is before it’s officially kicked off, of course.)

                Have you seen anything?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

                You’re missing my point. This is the only thing I’ve seen on the issue and it being a seemingly intentionally misleading piece doesn’t make me inclined toward its position… even though I’m probably inclined toward its position. You’re the one always waxing about strategy and effectiveness of an argument. This one strikes me as poor on both fronts. That is my argument.

                Basically, find a better article next time.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

                Oh, why didn’t you say so?

                Here’s a sober piece from the International Business Times that seems to take the attitude that a newspaper called International Business Times would take.

                The NY Post is nice and tabloidy so it’ll have all sorts of editorial words in there to point you to a conclusion.

                If you want to avoid emotion-laden words but want to know “well, what was the *REAL* response to this… not just people opining on the internet!”, then you can read this piece from Los Angeles Magazine that discusses a bunch of freelance journalists suing California.

                As for the argument that I, Jaybird, am making… well, it’s contained in my comment at the top. Not in my posting this story in the first place.

                (If I had to put my argument in a nutshell, it’d be this: This is what happened last time when they passed a law to help. It’s what happened this time when they passed a law to help. It’ll be what happens next time that they pass a law to help.)Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

                “(If I had to put my argument in a nutshell, it’d be this: This is what happened last time when they passed a law to help. It’s what happened this time when they passed a law to help. It’ll be what happens next time that they pass a law to help.)”

                And the thing is…it’s not like they don’t want to help. And it’s not like this won’t help someone. Maybe a lot of other people will be screwed. Maybe a lot of other people will realize they were being screwed. Maybe it won’t help anyone now, but future people who would’ve been screwed the same way now will not be screwed that way.

                And maybe this is the sort of collective-action problem that government were invented in order to solve, where the equilibrium is loathsome but incredibly stable, and nobody with the ability to fix it had any incentives to do that.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Kazzy says:

              “For freelance writers, the exemption classifies a contributor as a freelance writer only if they do “not provide content submissions to the putative employer more than 35 times per year.

              According to The Hollywood Reporter, the 35-submission limit was decided by Gonzalez and her team by deciding that a part-time worker was equivalent to a weekly columnist, halving estimated submissions from a weekly columnist, and then raising it to 35 after pushback from freelancers who considered 25 to be too low. Gonzalez admits that the determination was made with criteria that was “a little arbitrary.”

              The whole thing about writers is that writing is an exemption to the main body of the bill; the main bill gives a three part test to determine if someone is an employee or a true independent contractor:

              “the worker is free from the control and direction of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of such work and in fact
              the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business
              the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entity[16]”

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Assembly_Bill_5_(2019)Report

  5. Made ironic that Vox itself wrote a big a article in support of that law, dismissing the concerns that it would result in precisely this problem.Report

  6. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    This seems like the reverse of our conversations about minimum wage laws.
    Vox and SB Nation will continue on without a ripple, the consumers will never notice a thing and the writers will all go on to other things.

    Because as we’ve talked about with other jobs, there just isn’t much value to what these people are doing. Our economy doesn’t place enough of a value on their efforts to make it worth paying full time wages for.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      A reverse? I thought that our conversations about minimum wage laws concluded with “passing laws intended to help will have unintended consequences that harm those that the lawpassers are trying to help.”

      How is this the reverse of that?Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

        I mean the point of view here seems to be sympathy for the workers, when usually there isn’t much to be had.
        In the case of fast food workers being replaced by kiosks there is normally a consensus around here that the jobs aren’t worth much in the first place and the end result is a net benefit to the consumers.

        I disagree about the net benefit part, but I do agree that these jobs aren’t worth much, as dispiriting as it sounds.
        The fact that they can be summarily dismissed, and Vox expects to suffer no consequences and the consumers will never notice, makes me think that these workers were entirely surplus to begin with.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          In the case of fast food workers being replaced by kiosks there is normally a consensus around here that the jobs aren’t worth much in the first place and the end result is a net benefit to the consumers.

          I haven’t been reading comments religiously, but I don’t recall anyone saying this, and it doesn’t really make sense. If it were a net benefit to the consumer—i.e. it lowers costs relative to the status quo before the minimum wage hike—then fast-food restaurants would already be doing this*. If a change is made only in response to an increase in the cost of one or more inputs, the new equilibrium is unlikely to have lower costs.

          *In fact, meal ticket vending machines are quite common at fast-food restaurants in Japan, and even many casual-dining establishments allow ordering via a touch-screen tablet.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            It looks like these gig jobs were right on the cusp of being deleted already.

            That’s what I find so striking, is that the choices of either outsourced in other jurisdictions or other arrangements were already on the table, just waiting for the see saw to be tipped just a little.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          There is sympathy for the workers displaced by kiosks and automation as well.

          There’s a “but what did you expect!” when it happens as the result of “Fight for $15.”

          And the same here. They passed the law. Those poor content farmers. But what did they expect?Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

            Maybe these freelance independent contractors can just continue working just as before, for their many, many other clients.

            After all, for a healthy business, losing one single customer can’t be the end of the world, can it?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              Mohel’s Law states: “You can take 10% off of anything.”

              But not, you know, over and over.

              (I think that part of the problem is the assumption that Vox Media was one of The Good Guys rather than yet another cynical cash-in. Vox Media was supposed to be different.)Report

            • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              Presumably those other clients are ALSO firing everyone who lives in California. If I’m employing someone from California I have to keep track of how much work they’ve done for me in the past year. Writers often use pseudonyms so I may not know. If I’m the Sports Editor then I probably don’t know what the other editors have done so I can’t know. I don’t have a database to track what they’ve done to this level of detail, and if I do I don’t want to risk breaking the law based on a database error.

              Much MUCH easier to just not employ people who bring that kind of risk.Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          The problem isn’t that the jobs aren’t worth much, the problem is we’re not letting the people involved make that decision.

          One of the fired Vox writers has a day job, this was just a hobby that pays for itself and a little more. We’ve set fire to his side-gig… why? So he can be poorer?

          Similarly my 16 year old child doesn’t deserve “a living wage” or “a full time job” but if she was getting paid to write for Vox part time it would STILL be a massively good thing for her pocketbook, resume, and professional development.

          Destroying bad jobs doesn’t create good jobs. Fewer jobs means employees compete for employers rather than the reverse.

          Effectively California has decided that these jobs are so nasty they shouldn’t exist. That seems like a huge overreach.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

            No one is preventing anyone from doing a “side gig”;

            That is, unless the “side gig” involves more than 35 articles per client per year.

            Meaning that the Vox writer can write about 3 articles per month, for every single one of her many, many different clients, and still enjoy that sweet sweet gig!

            Unless of course, she only has one employer, er, “client” wink wink nudge nudge.
            In which case this isn’t a “side gig” it is a “job” and she is an “employee” entitled to health benefits.

            Also too- one of the reasons we don’t have socialized health care is that the American people opted to have employment based health care;

            Keep exempting enough “side gig” workers from health care and M4A starts to look real good.Report

            • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              No one is preventing anyone from doing a “side gig”

              That is, unless the “side gig” involves more than 35 articles per client per year.

              Your first statement conflicts with your second.

              Worse, you don’t seem to realize “more than 35 articles per client per year” translates in the real world into “unless the employer KNOWS AND CAN PROVE that they don’t have that many”.

              If I’m not keeping track of that to a standard that’s admissible in court, and why would I, then I can’t touch you.

              Keep exempting enough “side gig” workers from health care and M4A starts to look real good.

              The gov seriously shouldn’t be punishing job creation. That includes taxing it and larding it up with other unrelated social goals.

              Business has no business supplying HC to it’s employees, much less being forced to do so, any more than it should be supplying housing or wives.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                A professional media company doesn’t keep track of who they hire and how many articles they purchase??

                Who is this, Larry, Darryl & Darryl, LLC?

                Look, AB 5 just says that if you are a true independent contractor, great; and it sets a test of what that term means so people don’t cheat and claim to be one when they are just a regular employee.

                And hey, I’m with ya, getting rid of employer based HC would be great!Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                A professional media company doesn’t keep track of who they hire and how many articles they purchase??

                In a way that’s going to be useful for this situation?

                I suspect this is a world world mess. Multiple editors. Multiple branches of the company. Multiple publishing. No tracking and/or no unified database and/or the data is highly suspect. HR, if they’re big enough to have an HR department, probably just pays people based on what they’re told to pay them and tracks that for tax purposes. So we’re going to give this high legal stakes?

                Various employers are firing everyone who works in California, including media companies that previously thought the world of this law. Clearly they don’t think it’s going to be easy to comply.

                Presumably it’s not impossible to comply but why should they create legal/software/policy constructs when just not dealing with it is cheaper, easier, and safer?Report

  7. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    Related:
    https://gen.medium.com/the-human-toll-of-the-2019-media-apocalypse-4347ef4dd708

    “Being a journalist in 2019 meant working under the gun. In January, over a thousand journalists lost their jobs as layoffs hit Gannett, BuzzFeed, AOL, and HuffPost. Vice laid off 250 employees in February; New York Media laid off 32 employees in March; in April, G/O Media let go of 25 people. New Orleans’ Times-Picayune let go the entire staff, 161 employees, in May after the newspaper was sold to a competitor; in August, Pacific Standard shut down after a decade of publishing. No company or sector of news was spared. NBCUniversal laid off 70 employees in two rounds of layoffs in August and September. Spin Media Group cut 29 jobs in September and January; Cox Media Group, which owns the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, announced plans to lay off 87 people in September. Sports Illustrated laid off more than 40 employees in October. In November, the Toronto Star and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had a combined 108 layoffs. Since the beginning of the year, hedge fund Alden Global Capital killed off two of every three jobs at the 100 newspapers it owns, including the Denver Post.”

    After reading about all these layoffs and downsizes, I wonder have the consumers of these media noticed? Is there a market demand for all this labor, or was it superfluous?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      What did Vox say about the law?

      AB 5’s passage — which Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to sign — could easily be seen as just another progressive victory in California. But it is more than that. It is a historic moment for the US labor movement too.

      By making it hard for employers to misclassify employees as independent contractors, potentially millions of California workers who’ve been kept off payrolls will get basic labor rights for the first time, like overtime pay and unemployment benefits. This includes janitors, construction workers, security guards, and hotel housekeepers — and yes, this group also includes Uber and Lyft drivers.

      “Symbolically, this is huge,” César Rosado Marzán, a labor law professor and co-director of the Institute for Law and the Workplace at the Illinois Institute of Technology, told me. “The pride of California is tech. Now they’re passing a law that says these people are your employees, and you need to take care of them. It shows that labor unions and activists have a lot of pull.”

      Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      In January, over a thousand journalists lost their jobs…

      Let’s hope they know how to code.

      After reading about all these layoffs and downsizes, I wonder have the consumers of these media noticed? Is there a market demand for all this labor, or was it superfluous?

      There is more media being consumed than ever. But although the demand is higher, the supply is crazy higher, and the revenue sources are seriously down.

      I walk around with a professional grade video camera, recorder, and normal camera via my phone. If something happens I’m functionally a reporter… just like everyone else. I likely won’t charge for my services because I have a day job.

      Help Wanted ads are online. Ditto a ton of other information services that newspapers used to supply.

      I am better served by the newspaper’s replacements than I was by the newspapers.

      So for today, yeah, all that labor is superfluous. And the downsizing probably isn’t done yet.Report

  8. Avatar George Turner says:

    Baldilocks says she’s going to be impacted.

    On January 1, 2020, it will severely limit all of my gigs. In short, AB5 limits me to 35 pieces of freelance work per year for an individual recipient.

    This include my blogging here at DaTechGuy Blog.

    She should move to a state that allows writers to get paid for writing.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to George Turner says:

      She could, y’know, become an independent contractor and get some more clients.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        Are you trying to argue in favor of this law or against it?Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        It sounds like she does have other clients. I can’t imagine that two blog posts per week is a full-time job. She mentions losing another client a few months ago here. Apparently she blogs for a site called Hot Air, as well, though I don’t know whether that’s paid.

        She also has a Patreon account, from which she makes $63 per “creation,” which I guess means a video or blog post or something. I wonder if this law affects that. Is she a contractor for Patreon? An employee? A customer? There’s no objectively right answer here, so ultimately I guess it comes down to how many politicians sees any political points to be gained from grandstanding on Patreon’s corpse.

        What this law says is that she can’t sell 35 pieces per year to any one client, so she needs at least three new clients to make up just for the business she was getting from this one, and that’s if they all order right up to the legal limit. And apparently some won’t hire contractors at all now. This makes things a lot harder for independent contractors, because they have to spend a lot more time and effort on client acquisition.

        But sure, she’s queering the narrative, so screw her.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          “What this law says is that she can’t sell 35 pieces per year to any one client… ”

          But that’s not what it says, is it?

          It says she is free to sell 35, 60, 100 pieces to a single client if she wants. But if she does, she is their employee, not some freelance contractor.

          Which is exactly the point.

          Why don’t they just hire her as an employee?

          Because, as our libertarian friends will tell us, the marketplace is sending a signal.
          The employer has a choice of gaining her labor as an employee and paying for health benefits, or keeping the health benefits and losing her labor.

          They chose the latter, meaning her labor just isn’t worth the cost of health benefits. Because her labor is easily replaceable and obtained at lower cost from a dozen other writers.

          Which is the bitter truth I keep referring to, that the market value of labor- even white collar professional labor, the knowledge labor, just isn’t worth much in our economy.
          We know this is true because no one wants to pay for it.

          Take the test yourself- If you had to pay money to read Baldilocks at Hot Air, would you?Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            I think part of the irony of the situation is that Vox, as we all know, is on Team Good. Vox championed the law as being something that would be good for workers. When the law passed, they fired a bunch of writers.

            When you say “Because, as our libertarian friends will tell us, the marketplace is sending a signal”, there are two readings:

            Reading the First: And the libertarians are wrong because they are jerks who need to care more about the *HUMAN* cost.

            Reading the Second: And they’re right. Economics is like Physics. This followed that in the same way that billiard players are able to sink shots.

            If you want to argue the second, I won’t argue against it. If you want to argue the first… well, this goes back to how Vox is (or was) on Team Good.

            It’s not just the libertarians who need to care more about the Human cost.

            It’s the neolibs, too. Maybe even the liberals. (The Progressives? Maybe?)Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

              Lets discuss the second, which I believe is correct.

              What does that say about our economy that the value of the labor of educated white collar professional writers is steadily shrinking?

              How should the citizens of the republic react to this?Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                “What does that say about our economy that the value of the labor of educated white collar professional writers is steadily shrinking?”

                That is because there is no inherent value in labor, only in product.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Aaron David says:

                Just to be clear, you mean that the product being whatever the end result of the labor is, right?

                A landscaper doesn’t create a product (e.g. a widget), but they do produce a result that people value.

                Ergo, there is no value for the guy who labors to dig random holes simply to fill them up again. Likewise, there is no value in a written essay that no one reads and that generates little to no ad revenue.

                Although, this leads to an interesting question: Why are we paid per time, rather than per piece? That is really what this part of the law is getting at, right? It’s trying to force employers to adopt payment per time, rather than payment per piece, so as to cause benefits to attach.

                It strikes me that the liberal coalition has a split on this. There are powerful left of center interests that want to keep the health care attached to employment, either because it’s a staple of Union power; or because they know that absent that kind of benefit, employers won’t raise wages to compensate because of the employment tax (which the left seems strangely attached to for some reason).Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Oscar;
                Yes, the product being the end result of said labor.

                I don’t care if a robot or a Yale grad write my will, only that it carries out my final wishes correctly. And to that point, I prefer the cheaper version.

                But, you ask a good question re; time vs. product. I would hazard a guess that this comes from a time when the economies (not just the US but in general) were more under the command of organized labor. As many fields, such as agriculture, are often still under this arrangement. Then again, as automation increased, it was an easier way of tracking productivity. But, I am not a labor economist, so it is just a guess.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                What does that say about our economy that the value of the labor of educated white collar professional writers is steadily shrinking?

                It says that our economy is operating within the parameters set by the Law of Economy. Little more and little less. “Anything that cannot go on forever will stop.”

                “How should the citizens of the republic react to this?”

                Looks like their representatives are for accelerating it.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            The employer has a choice of gaining her labor as an employee and paying for health benefits, or keeping the health benefits and losing her labor. They chose the latter, meaning her labor just isn’t worth the cost of health benefits. Because her labor is easily replaceable and obtained at lower cost from a dozen other writers.

            Serious question: Why are we forcing her employer to make that choice?Report

  9. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    Gig writing has this veneer of modernity and newness to it, but it really is just a latter day variant of piecework;
    The writers for Vox or Hot Air are really just a bunch of Eliza Doolittles selling flowers on the street, hoping to somehow make ends meet.

    Somewhere in Africa at this very moment there are children desperately scratching in the dirt digging up rare earths and minerals to be used in cell phones; On the other side of the planet in southeast Asia there are other children smashing apart those cell phones picking thru the rubble for those same bits of minerals to be recycled.

    But their labor is utterly worthless to the economy; If one of them were to fall over dead, a thousand children more stand ready to take her place.

    In the American Rust Belt, and all across the West there are thousands of small towns that are slowly dying as their economic engines have vacated to the coasts or to faraway nations, and the residents of these places are like those African children desperately searching for nuggets of value; Maybe a WalMart, or a call center, maybe gig writing or something.

    We heard a lot in the last election about how they feel slighted and ignored by the wealthy coastal people.
    But really, isn’t it the global economy that is delivering the most crushing and brutal truth, that it doesn’t need them, like, at all?

    If all the gig writers were to go on strike, would anyone notice? Isn’t it true that for every one of them, a thousand more stand ready to take their place?

    The global economy tells coal miners, steelworkers, autoworkers, lumberjacks, manufacturing workers of all kinds, your labor isn’t worth much;
    It tells truckers and farmworkers and fast food workers, your labor is so worthless, we stand ready to replace you with a machine at a moment’s notice.

    That this is happening isn’t really a debatable point.
    The only debate now is, what should be done about it. In all honesty, I don’t have a good answer.Report

    • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      “Go offer something valuable to society, if society values it they will pay you for it. If not you have a hobby.”Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      I would suggest having Democrats adopt that as a campaign message and run with it in 2020. “You heartland folks have no more value than Central Africans! Your output isn’t worthy anything and you’re no longer needed.” But that’s just me.

      Under the old model, Baldilocks could write for a dozen different outlets. They paid her for her work and she covered her own benefits. Now California says they have to hire her as an employee if she writes a lot for them. But which one should hire her? Should they all hire her? If they all hire her, does she end up with twelve health care plans? Do her twelve bosses all have to get in on a conference call to decide which of them should be listed as her primary employer?

      It’s probably far easier, and certainly cheaper, for media outlets to buy content from people in Bangalore or Delhi.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to George Turner says:

        If she writes 35 articles for a dozen different publications, why is she complaining?

        Can’t she make a living writing 420 articles a year?Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          Perhaps not. How much does each article pay? If she’s getting $50 or $100 she might be in trouble, even writing eight articles a week.

          Suppose Baldilocks is writing primarily for three outlets that have been paying her $250 per article, and she makes $52K a year by writing 70 articles for each of them. She could choose to cut her income in half by staying under the 35 article limit for all three, or she could stay with one and publish 70 articles a year – and make a third as much.

          It’s a problem that shouldn’t have been thrown in front of her, and a problem that shouldn’t have been thrown at media outlets. How does Vox know if someone is submitting more than 35 articles a year, via a pseudonym and a different e-mail address? Are they obliged to run background checks on everyone who submits a piece? Did they have to hire extra staff to track which authors have submitted what, to make sure they stay under the hiring limit? If they miss something and California comes after them, what are the legal penalties?

          “Ah,” but you say, “she should charge more!” What a nice barrier to entry for an aspiring writer. To live in California you have to start out writing for The Atlantic or Harper’s, who can pay a lot per article, because submissions to Reader’s Digest just won’t allow you to make a living. The UK Daily Mail says “We pay money for videos!” Well, perhaps not to people living in California because it could be risky, not knowing if they suddenly be on the hook for a year’s worth of US health care because of a cute cat video.

          It would be far easier just not to accept any articles from Californians, because there are plenty of skilled writers in the other 49 states.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to George Turner says:

            So…the marketplace is saying her labor isn’t worth very much.Report

            • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              No, the marketplace said her labor was worth a lot. She was an amazing writing machine cranking out countless articles a week.

              But government (which is the name for what we do together) arbitrarily said that she couldn’t write more than 35 articles a year for any particular media outlet, perhaps because California’s government thinks people are supposed to be wage slaves controlled by big Democrat donors, or perhaps because they’re just daft.

              What you’re suggesting is that, say, a fisherman who catches 35 tuna a year and sells them for $1000 each (making $35K) is producing something of worth. But a fisherman who catches 20,000 pounds of sardines a year (at $2 a pound) isn’t worth anything because you’re going to limit him to only selling 35 sardines a year to any one cannery, and 35 sardines just aren’t worth very much.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to George Turner says:

                But you said she only gets between $50-100 per article.

                If she writes one a day, like an old fashioned newspaper columnist, thats only about 250 articles, or between $12,500 and $25,000 per year.
                At this rate she would find waiting on tables more lucrative than writing.

                Which means that the marketplace is sending her a signal about her labor.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                If so, how was she making so much money in the marketplace before California decided to do the stupid? What about all the other people who sold the products of their labor, who will not longer be allowed to?

                There are many ways people make a living, some of which none of us even know about. We don’t even need to know how many other people make a living because those people have figured it all out and we don’t have to bother with it.

                The problem, frequent among progressives, especially in California, is deciding that the way you do things should be the way everyone else does things. “Everyone should drive an electric car. Everyone should only use electric heat. Everyone should be an hourly employee.
                Thinking like that produces endless streams of horrible policy because no one knows what everyone else needs to do to keep the system running, or what the best options are in each situation.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                You’re deep into making stuff up about someone else’s economic model. It’s trivial to change those numbers and turn this into a really good job.

                It’s also trivial to picture someone being able to make even your numbers seriously work. My wife enjoys her job, it pays something like that. Two of my children get even less. Household income is way more important than income.

                And eliminating all three of their “jobs” would be bad for both my household and their careers.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                What we know is that the value of the gig writers who have been let go is less than the delta between what it cost the company to pay them cash, and what it would have paid them in cash plus group health coverage.

                So again; their labor just isn’t worth very much. That’s the same reason almost all media companies are letting people go all across the nation.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Not at all. Any particular company was only paying for a potentially small part of a gig writer’s total output. They could hire on with a company and write X articles a year for one company, or stay freelance and write 4X articles a year for four companies. They can no longer do the latter for X greater than 35.

                There are lots of jobs that are done as contract work because it’s easier and more efficient for everyone involved. California decided that ease and efficiency shouldn’t be allowed.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to George Turner says:

        Maybe they’ll make it work by having one “staff writer” who’s an employee and has a dozen or so “assistants”, contract workers who do the actual work but for legal reasons cannot get a byline.Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to DensityDuck says:

          That would not surprise me a bit. Another obvious move is for someone to set up a “Writing Shoppe” or “WordCo” that is just a pass through with an e-mail address and a health care plan that meets California’s definitions of an employer. The company is given a share of each writer’s pay to meet the employer contribution requirements on whatever health care plan the writer had already purchased for themselves.

          However, it wouldn’t surprise me if California lobbyists and legislators already made sure that simple work-around was illegal or nonviable because of some other onerous costs and requirements they’d imposed on businesses, such as mandating that any “writing shop” actually publishes all the articles of its employees, for profit, etc, and then auditing the heck out of everybody. That theory would be that if your articles are appearing in Vox, via some other outlet, you’re still an employee of Vox.

          It’s a lot easier to come up with ways to make business not work than ways to make a business work.Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      The only debate now is, what should be done about it. In all honesty, I don’t have a good answer.

      Do nothing. Let the market sort this out. The people who need real jobs will shift to doing something else. The people who don’t need real jobs will continue with this as a hobby-that-pays-for-itself.

      The amount of money I’ve made writing for Ordinary Times is zero. I’ve no clue how many pages I’ve posted over the years but I’m sure we’re into “book” range. If OT decided to pay me some tiny amount for my “work”, then that would be a good thing but this isn’t a full time job and doesn’t pretend to be. However if I lived in CA then it’d be illegal unless they also offer health care and maybe also a living wage.

      At best this law is a bad idea based on magic thinking. This is not child labor, nor slave labor, nor some other activity where serious people can claim it shouldn’t exist.Report

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