California workers blame new labor law for lost jobs. Lawmakers are scrambling to fix it

By Sophia Bollag and Dale Kasler with the Sacramento Bee

February 10, 2020

The Sacramento Jazz Cooperative is a struggling nonprofit, operating on a shoestring budget during its three-year history as it presents Monday night concerts at the Dante Club. Now it has another problem on its hands — a controversial California labor law that requires it to hire musicians as employees.

Since Jan. 1, the jazz co-op has had to contribute to musicians’ Social Security and Medicare, while withholding payroll taxes from their checks. Founder Carolyne Swayze said the law is proving costly to the co-op and threatens its viability, potentially hurting musicians.

“I’m not sure if we can hang in there,” she said. “It might be different if we were in Chicago or LA or New York.”

The new law, Assembly Bill 5, has generated outrage from a wide range of Californians, from musicians to therapists to truckers and freelance journalists.

It requires businesses to classify more workers as employees entitled to benefits like sick leave and overtime pay. But some workers affected by AB 5 say it’s caused them nothing but grief and anxiety. One online media company, Vox, parted ways with 200 freelance journalists rather than hire them as full-fledged employees.

Read more at The Sac Bee

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