California’s new gig economy labor regulations face challenges; freelancers already feeling the effects.

California recently enacted the nation’s most stringent regulations on the gig economy, as we’ve written previously. The new regulations now face another court challenge

The lawsuit filed in U.S. court [by Uber and Postmates] in Los Angeles argues that the law set to take effect Wednesday violates federal and state constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

Uber said it will try to link the lawsuit to another legal challenge filed in mid-December by associations representing freelance writers and photographers.

The California Trucking Association filed the first challenge to the law in November on behalf of independent truckers.

Freelance writer Nicole Russell explains some of the new law’s impact on her professional community.

Vox Media announced they will be cutting hundreds of freelance writers, mostly those covering sports for the SB Nation site, as the company prepares for Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) to go into effect in California at the start of the new year.

Passed in September, the law requires gig economy workers to be hired as employees with benefits. While the primary sponsor, California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, had intended to target companies like Uber and DoorDash, the law also forbids freelancers from submitting more than 35 articles per year to the same publication.

For many, if not most, freelancers the restriction puts them out of business quickly, she says.

Freelance writing can offer a good living in a cost-effective part of the country outside expensive cities, but it is imperative these writers produce a lot of work to pay their bills. That’s why this California law is such a scam: My friends and I can produce between 8-10 articles per publication, per month, and write regularly for at least four-five publications per month. If we lived in California, we’d fill the absurd “35 pieces per publication per year” quota within a few months.

Vox, one of the law’s early champions, acted swiftly.

Vox Media is cutting hundreds of freelance jobs ahead of California legislation it previously had championed as a “historic” law expanding worker benefits.

This past September, Vox reported on Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5), which guarantees freelancers and independent contractors in California “basic labor protections” that they didn’t have before. The site called it not only a “progressive victory” but also a “historic moment for the U.S. labor movement.”

…In 2019, SB Nation contractors who live in California or contribute to California’s team sites did some truly amazing work… Together, over 200 people on California sites wrote thousands of blog posts in 2019 – pieces so diverse in their conception that it’s impossible to describe them en masse except to say, they were written for a community of fellow fans,” SB Nation Executive Director John Ness wrote in a lengthy piece. “In 2020, we will move California’s team blogs from our established system with hundreds of contractors to a new one run by a team of new SB Nation employees. In the early weeks and months of 2020, we will end our contracts with most contractors at California brands.”

Seattle has also been among the cities attempting to impose new regulations on gig economy workers and employers. City officials might want to take note of the unintended, but not unforeseeable, consequences being realized in the Golden State.