WHAT IS AB5?
California Assembly Bill 5, or AB5, is a California law based on the Dynamex ruling that was signed in Sept. 2019 and limits the use of classifying workers as independent contractors rather than employees by CA-based companies.
Under AB5, employees are entitled to greater labor protections, such as minimum wage laws, sick leave, and unemployment and workers' compensation benefits, which do not apply to independent contractors. Concerns over employee misclassification, especially in the gig economy, drove support for the bill and was particularly directed at companies such as Uber and Lyft.
It was introduced by California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and endorsed by Governor Gavin Newsom. It was approved by the California State Senate 29-11 on a party-line vote, by the Assembly by 56-15, and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in September 2019. It will take effect on January 1, 2020.
Some professions are exempt from AB5, including doctors, dentists, psychologists, insurance agents, stockbrokers, lawyers, accountants, engineers, and real estate agents, as they are seen to generally directly work with and set their prices to customers.
However, working musicians who are not part of the union are not exempt.
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT CALIFORNIA MUSICIANS?
According to Loudwire,
"The music industry will be directly affected by the bill in the sense that independent artists and labels will have to treat any other industry professionals they collaborate with, such as recording studio engineers and roadies, as employees. This will entail a minimum wage, insurance and other basic employee benefits.
“Either its going to drive the music economy underground so that people are going to bend the rules even more than they already do, or it's going to encourage record producers not to hire musicians and either to play the stuff themselves or use [computerization] to generate music, because you don’t need to pay a machine workers’ comp, health insurance and all the rest," said Bill Berrol, an attorney in the music industry.
"If you care about allowing independent artists, songwriters, and labels to remain in California, we need your help. Call your local state legislature, your union, the AFM. Tell them how important it is to you that we keep the music in California.
Ask them to support an exemption to AB5 for independent recording in California," reads a statement by the Recording Industry Association of America, the Music Artists Coalition and the American Association of Independent Music.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Write to Governor Gavin Newsom here with the subject Legislative Concerns/Issues. Write to Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and your district representatives urging them to add an exemption to the newly signed law AB5 for “non-union music professionals” in section 2(c)(2)(b).
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