California’s new “gig worker” “protection” law, “AB5” – essentially requiring companies to treat anyone working for them above a certain, fairly low, threshold as a full-time employee, complete with benefits – is shredding jobs in a plethora of sectors; free-lance technical and design talent, writers…
…and the original, literal “gig workers”, musicians.
An organizer of a California Jazz festival – while allowing (as one suspects someone in California arts administration might) he supports the basic idea – testifies to the damage the new law is causing to his organization:
Under AB 5, we will be required to inform all U.S.-based musicians that they must now become employees of San Jose Jazz, or incorporate themselves before they will be allowed to perform for us.
If band leaders choose to pursue incorporation, they will then need to take on the responsibility of payroll and HR administration for the rest of their band.
In many performing arts disciplines, such as jazz, musicians are constantly reconfiguring line ups, performing as sidemen in various bands, and as one-time special guests for specific performances.
We will now be obliged to devote tremendous time and resources to constantly hiring, managing and tracking of musicians through this cumbersome process.
AB 5 unnecessarily complicates other work arrangements found in community cultural programming such as small festivals, neighborhood street fairs, parades and summer music series in our local parks.
San Jose Jazz is best known for producing our large Summer Fest which brings tens of thousands of visitors and requires hundreds of temporary roles to execute.
The vast majority of previously contract work roles will now be required to be employees.
For instance, we are required by the City of San Jose to hire off-duty police officers through their Secondary Employment Unit program to insure a safe and well-run festival. Under AB 5 we will be required to classify these moonlighting officers as San Jose Jazz employees with the attendant oversight and administrative requirements.
But of course, as in all “progressive” societies, some animals – and gig workers – are more equal than others:
Typical of such legislation, AB 5 comes with a hefty list of exempted categories that are a Who’s Who of the politically connected and well-funded: lawyers, doctors, accountants, brokers, builders, and others.