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California’s New Law That Vox Supported Just Cost Hundreds Of Vox Writers Their Jobs
Welcome to California, Interstate 10. (Photo by: Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Left-wing outlet Vox supported California’s controversial new law targeting “gig” workers — including contractors who work for ride share companies and freelance writers — arguing that those sounding the alarm over the law fail to understand how it’s really going to “protect” independent contractors. With the law going into effect in January, Vox Media has just informed hundreds of its freelancers that they’ve been cut. Out of the hundreds, only about 20 will potentially get a part-time or full-time job with the company.


The law, which goes into effect in January, makes it much harder for companies to label workers as independent contractors (a.k.a. freelancers) instead of employees, a common practice that has allowed businesses to skirt state and federal labor laws.

Hundreds of thousands of independent contractors in California, ranging from Uber and Amazon drivers to manicurists and exotic dancers, will likely become employees under AB 5. So would many freelance journalists who do four or more assignments each month for one news outlet.

But, as many journalists, particularly on the right, have predicted, that’s not what is actually happening. Rather than “many” of these contractors becoming employees, as Vox insisted, a vast majority are simply losing their gigs — just like hundreds of writers for Vox Media’s SB Nation learned on Monday.

In a “bittersweet” announcement posted on SB Nation on Monday equivocally titled “Thank You, California,” SB Nation’s executive director John Ness informed the over 200 independent contractors for the outlet working in California that they won’t have a job with them next year because of SB 5:

This is a bittersweet note of thanks to our California independent contractors. In 2019, SB Nation contractors who live in California or contribute to California’s team sites did some truly amazing work: They ran 25 different communities, with all of the sites’ managers pulling together their own unique recipe for smart coverage. Contractors ran social media through the nerve-racking ups and downs of gametime and moderated our sprawling communities. 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. This is how things have run for our California blogs since 2003, when Tyler Bleszinski launched Athletics Nation.

Now comes the bittersweet part: 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. This shift is part of a business and staffing strategy that we have been exploring over the past two years, but one that is also necessary in light of California’s new independent contractor law, which goes into effect January 1, 2020. That new law makes it impossible for us to continue with our current California team site structure because it restricts contractors from producing more than 35 written content “submissions” per year. To comply with this new law, we will not be replacing California contractors with contractors from other states.

Ness goes on to encourage the more than 200 axed contractors to apply for SB Nation’s “newly-created full-time or part-time employee positions.” But there’s one big problem. As reported by CNBC, SB Nation is only creating about 20 of those positions.

AB 5 “has the potential to change the employment status of more than 1 million workers in California,” CNBC notes, while Uber, Lyft and DoorDash have “pledged $90 million on a ballot initiative for the 2020 election that would exempt them” from the bill.

Related: Democrat Behind Law That Just Got Hundreds Of Writers Fired Says It’s ‘Not All Bad,’ Gets Smacked, Apologizes

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