OPINION: Hollywood dreams could become nightmare under new contractor rules

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Kee Broussard
For The Hub

Los Angeles is the city of dreams. Many come here with hopes of making it in Hollywood. But, chasing acting dreams is an uphill battle that involves a few side jobs to earn income while waiting for that “big break.”

Like many in tinsel town, I needed another job to support my family between TV and movie roles. Being a mom and a successful actress are my priorities, but I have to earn an income, too.

Today, I drive for Postmates, an app-based on-demand meal delivery service that allows app users to place an order that drivers pick up and deliver. As a Postmates driver, I work when I want, where I want and how much I want. I don’t have set hours or shifts. But I do have much-needed flexibility to work when I’m available or need extra income.

Controlling my schedule allows me to focus on auditions, acting workshops, new acting gigs and being a mom. Unfortunately, this financial cushion may soon deflate.

Unfortunately, this financial cushion may soon deflate.

The State Legislature is debating legislation (AB 5) that would codify a 2018 California Supreme Court ruling, called Dynamex. That decision reclassified many independent contractors as employees who work pre-scheduled shifts.

The new classification system, called an “ABC test,” uses three limiting factors to make this determination, rather than the 11 that were previously used to classify independent contractors.

The implications are clear regarding the expectations of employees versus independent contractors. Employees are subject to predetermined shifts with mandatory arrival, leave and break times. Independent contractors are free to choose when to begin and end work, and to choose when and how long to take breaks. As an actor, rigid employment scheduling won’t work for me.

When I get a last-minute audition, I can’t be bound to a shift that a supervisor won’t let me out of with short notice. I also can’t expect a supervisor to hold my position open when I book an audition and work for weeks on a movie or TV show. I don’t want to worry about finding someone to replace my shift or risk being fired for getting an acting gig and then facing the stressful process of searching for a new job when it ends. I need the flexibility to walk away from and come back to my Postmates gig in order to work on my passion, my acting career. As an employee, this wouldn’t be possible.

Sadly, several industries were provided exemptions to the new Dynamex reclassification by the State Legislature. But, rideshare and on-demand delivery drivers weren’t included. Without a legislative solution, we  forced to become employees.

Today’s modern economy has developed to use technology to empower individuals and fill gaps in our community. For lawmakers to force a traditional employee model on a 21st Century economy represents a gigantic step backward for California and for the state’s diverse and innovate workforce.

California legislators should step into the future by creating a third classification to meet the needs of the new, share economy; a classification with benefits, pay transparency and representation that do not replace our flexibility, but rather supplement it. As on-demand drivers, we choose our own work schedule – we should be able to choose portable benefits too.

I urge my representatives to consider Dynamex’s impact on thousands of on-demand drivers who, like me, float between caring for our families, going to school and pursuing an acting career. Creating third classification to maintain our independence and flexibility while having access to modern labor protections is not only common sense, it’s essential.

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