Musicians Want an Out-Chorus for California’s Law Attacking the Gig Economy

Let the resistance begin

Freelance writers, photographers and videographers have gathered at the state capitol to protest Assembly Bill 5, which limits them to 35 submissions per publication, per year. San Diego Democrat Lorena Gonzalez, author of the bill, is not saying where she came up with 35 submissions, less than one a week. Gonzalez rails against the “gig economy,” and those most associated with that term are now pushing back.

Joe Mazzaferro, a trumpeter and leader of a septet that performed for the Jazz Cooperative last month, said that AB5 had already begun reducing his band’s pay. He fears that nightclubs will start cutting back and hiring trios instead of larger groups. The trumpeter also objects to the measure on principle.

“I feel like it’s our right to work as we choose,” the bandleader told the Sacramento Bee. “We really need that ability to negotiate not just our time but what we’re being compensated.” Mazzaferro is right, and the same principle applies to writers, photographers, court transcription editors and anyone else affected by AB 5.

Assemblywoman Gonzalez, an attorney and former AFL-CIO union organizer, is not competent or qualified to judge the professions, rates of pay and working conditions that Californians choose for themselves. Her bill is an attack on workers’ independence, a threat to workers’ livelihood, and an infringement of workers’ First Amendment rights.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, who signed AB 5, is also unqualified to judge the professions Californians choose for themselves, and the voluntary arrangements they enter. Newsom has budgeted $20 million for AB 5 enforcement. This repressive measure has the stank of state power all over it, and the more groups that push back, the better.

Let the resistance begin.