March 20, 2020 10:24AM

The Worst Time To Be Making War on Independent Contractor Work

In an emergency that’s made trucking and home delivery uniquely important, fractured schedules for parents and caregivers, and sent the services sector reeling, it would be nice if the states of California and New Jersey were not making war on the work arrangements needed for the situation.

That’s why California’s AB5 fiasco, along with similar moves in states like New Jersey, has come at the worst conceivable time. AB5 is aimed at outlawing some independent contractor arrangements, common in trucking, entertainment, and app‐​related “gig economy” work, while forcing others into a New Deal‐​style employer‐​will‐​provide‐​for‐​you model that is supposed to be more amenable to stringent regulation and unionization.

We can see the results in the debacle that followed California’s recent enactment of the AFL‐​CIO‐​backed measure: major disruptions to the vital independent trucking sector, a heavy blow to gig work in musical and other creative lines (now devastated in addition by venue closures), and big new legal risks for those trying to develop business models based on home delivery or personally dispatched services (talk about worst times). I’ve been covering these effects at my Cato blog Overlawyered for months, and published another roundup today.

Truckers especially have many more problems than this right this moment responding to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, read about some of them here (and help if you can!) They have begun getting direly needed removals of regulations. But don’t let this one slip off the list.