California law threatens newspaper business

California Assembly Bill 5, intended to improve the working conditions of gig workers, poses a serious threat to the news industry. The California Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that for workers to be classified as independent contractors, they could not provide services “central to a company’s core business.” If the bill passed, about 400,00 workers, including newspaper carriers, would be reclassified as employees. (Los Angeles Times, August 30, 2019, by Margot Roosevelt, Liam Dillon and Johana Bhuiyan)

Thomas W. Newton and James W. Ewert of the California New Publishers Association, San Francisco Chronicle, September 3, 2019, warn that unless newspapers are granted an exception, with shrinking ad revenues, newspapers could not afford the benefits and higher wages and would have to severely curtail their subscription services.

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