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Terrible New Worker “Protection” Laws Threaten the Gig Economy

Award-winning freelance writer Kim Kavin writes in Reason Magazine how new worker protection laws hurt those they’re supposed to help.

Bob Zadek
3 min readJul 9, 2020


Millions of Americans have discovered that working as an independent contractor offers them freedom and flexibility. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo would have you believe that they are all victims of unfair labor practices — akin to the seamstresses who tragically perished in the over-crowded Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in 1911.

“As FDR, Al Smith, and Frances Perkins protected workers after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, we too must protect workers from today’s threat, which is economic exploitation.”

— Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Never mind that 80% of independent contractors say they prefer the more flexible arrangement to being salaried employees — with all of the restrictions and burdens that come with the benefits. State legislatures across the country, following California’s lead, are introducing legislation in an attempt to force companies like Uber to reclassify their drivers from independent contractors to employees. So far, the primary result in California has been Uber and others fighting back in court, while once-thriving independent contractors lose income in more than 300 types of careers identified so far.

California was the first state to pass its version of this kind of misguided worker “protection” — AB 5. The bill was signed last year by Governor Newsom and went into effect on January 1. Kim Kavin, a freelance writer and co-founder of Fight for Freelancers New Jersey, has a feature in the latest edition of Reason [I Don’t Want To Be Anybody’s Employee] showing how these laws — now proliferating in other states including New York and New Jersey — are harming the people they are intended to help. Instead of converting contractors to employees, thousands of contractors lost work.

Facing the prospect of unemployment, freelancers are fighting back, alongside minority small-business owners who are disproportionately hurt by the onerous new hiring requirements. “AB5 has already crushed thousands of Black businesses and will keep more form operating in the gig economy,” said California Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, echoing a statement issued by the California Black Chamber of Commerce.

Kim joins the show this Sunday to talk about the failure of legislators and their enablers in media to confront the full range of unintended consequences. It’s not just higher Uber fees, as the NY Times editorial board claims.

We will also discuss Joe Biden’s recent endorsement of bills like AB 5, and why a federal version would be an even bigger nightmare for the most vulnerable workers.

Tune in live to learn how we can stop the law before it devastates the gig economy — one of the last remaining pockets of the free market — only on the show of #ideasnotattitude.

Call in with your questions for Bob and Kim: (424) BOB-SHOW


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