Hundreds of freelance writers in California got very bad news just ahead of Christmas when Vox Media informed them that they would be losing their jobs because of a new “gig economy” law intended to target Uber and Lyft.
“This is a bittersweet note of thanks to our California independent contractors,” said SB Nation executive director John Ness in a statement published on Monday.
“In 2020, we will move California’s team blogs from our established system with hundreds of contractors to a new one run by a team of new SB Nation employees,” he explained.
California Assembly Bill 5 will go into effect in 2020 and is intended to force “gig economy” giants like Uber and Lyft to pay their drivers as if they’re employees and provide more benefits. But it is also affecting other freelance workers and causing confusion among employers.
Ness added in a separate memo that writers could continue writing for the sports website, but without expectation of payment for their services.
Some took to social media to decry the decision.
“Today, along with literally HUNDREDS of my colleagues, I was told that I can no longer hold a paid position at SB Nation. California, you’re breaking my heart (and taking my money),” tweeted Rebecca Lawson.
“Incredibly frustrating day today,” tweeted Tucker Partridge. “Vox has decided to cancel all of its contracts for California workers. I’m one of those, despite running an Arkansas site.”
“I have no idea what the future looks like, or what’s going to happen to the site, but SB Nation‘s response has been subpar,” he added.
A headline at one of their sites wondered, “Did Vox just fire the entire Golden State of Mind staff via Twitter?” and explained, “After toeing the line between volunteers, and underpaid contributors, it looks like Vox Media just axed our entire staff without notice… a week before Christmas.”
Others blamed the law passed by the Democratic lawmakers in California, while still others opined that the firings were worth the effort to create fewer jobs with better pay and benefits.
Here’s more about California “gig economy” law:
How a new bill could alter gig economy jobs like Uber, Lyft in California