California Gov. Gavin Newsom will decide whether to give newspapers a one-year reprieve from new labor rules that would otherwise require them to treat delivery workers as employees after lawmakers voted to send him the bill early Saturday morning.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who authored the bill, took the unusual step of voting against the measure.
“This is a terrible bill and I do not plan to vote for it,” the San Diego Democrat said, blasting the newspaper industry for mistreating its workers and misclassifying them as independent contractors. “This is probably one of the most exploitative jobs we have.”
Gonzalez begrudgingly agreed to put the exemption in her Assembly Bill 170 as part of a deal to pass another one of her measures, Assembly Bill 5.
AB 5, the highest-profile labor bill of the year, codifies a 2018 California Supreme Court decision known as “Dynamex” that reclassifies many workers as employees who are entitled to benefits and job protections.
Lawmakers passed AB 5 earlier this week, and it also awaits Newsom’s signature.
Several of Gonzalez’s colleagues in the Assembly spoke in support of the exemption for newspaper carriers, noting the importance of the press and arguing papers should have an extra year to comply with the new rules. Newspaper publishers have argued that if they don’t get the exemption it will severely hurt their business.
The newspaper carrier exemption bill passed 62-4.
Gonzalez granted exemptions to dozens of other professions, including doctors, lawyers and architects, through AB 5, although many more groups are still seeking relief from the new rules.
Newspapers were the only group to receive an eleventh-hour exemption before the Tuesday deadline to amend bills for the year.