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New Freelancers Union Head Plans To Prioritize Gig Worker Legislation

From Forbes, Elaine Pofeldt discusses the priorities of the new executive director of the Freelancers Union. Elaine writes:

As Rafael Espinal prepares to take the helm of the Freelancers Union as executive director on March 2, he expects to give immediate attention to California’s gig worker law AB5 and the similar bills under consideration in New York and New Jersey.

“Thinking ahead to what the first few months will look like, I will be focusing on the early states that have pledged to adopt a version of AB5,” said Espinal, who resigned his seat as a Democratic councilman in Brooklyn, N.Y., to take the role at the Brooklyn-based Freelancers Union. He joined the State Assembly at age 26.

New York’s gig worker law S6699A, sponsored by Democratic Senator Robert Jackson, is in the Senate Labor Committee. In New Jersey, S863, sponsored by Democratic Senator Stephen M. Sweeney, has been pre-filed for introduction in the 2020 session.

Espinal said he aims to fly to California to speak with Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, the author of AB5, and other supporters of the legislation. The law, intended to prevent worker misclassification, makes the presumption that every worker in California is an employee unless they fall under exemptions for particular professions or can meet an exemption for B2B companies. Many self-employed residents of the state have said that the complexity of the law has driven away their clients, who fear steep fines if they misinterpret it, essentially causing California freelancers in many industries to be blacklisted.

“There is a lot of concern from freelancers about AB5,” Espinal said. “It’s going to be one of my top priorities in the first few months to travel to California and speak to the assemblywoman and the legislators who played a role in the crafting of that bill, to figure out what was in their minds and their ultimate goals, and whether there is a path to a bill that benefits all workers.”

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