The Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) is deeply concerned about the impact of legislation such as California’s AB 5 and similar moves to reclassify independent contractors, also often called freelancers or gig workers, as employees. These and similar laws are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of how an independent contractor functions in our economy.

Members of the EFA are freelance editorial professionals, working as writers, editors, proofreaders, indexers, translators, photographers, designers, desktop publishers, and more. Our members provide services to clients in industries including but not limited to academia, science, journalism (including print and broadcast), marketing, B2B, government, corporate, nonprofit, general and trade publishing, and web content. Our members invest significant resources in professional development, tools and equipment, marketing, and related business activities.

While we understand that such legislation is a well-intentioned effort to protect independent contractors from being taken advantage of by employers, the result has damaged, and in some instances, destroyed, the businesses of freelance editorial professionals in California, with the potential for similar damage in other states. It has also created a climate of confusion among both independent contractors and their clients.

Setting up high barriers for freelancing, such as requiring independent contractors to incorporate, particularly has a negative effect on disadvantaged populations. It also stifles innovation, especially affecting arts and cultural organizations. For many of our members, functioning as an independent contractor/freelancer is more profitable, flexible, and secure than traditional employment. The autonomy of operating as an independent contractor is essential to many of our members. Finally, California’s AB 5 and similar laws also create an untenable, career-ending legal environment for both independent contractors and those who subcontract to colleagues.

We join our colleagues in urging legislators in California, New York, New Jersey, Washington, Missouri, and other states, and at the national level, to rethink and redraft such legislation to protect the careers and businesses of those who choose to work as independent contractors.