I believe there are very few black and white circumstances in life. There are some, yes, but this situation has a lot of gray to it.
Yesterday, SB Nation announced plans to end the contracts of every paid contributor (read: “independent contractor”) for California communities. This is in response to a new law, AB 5, passed by the California State Legislature in September and taking effect on January 1st. Intended to target companies like Uber and Lyft (who are essentially ignoring the law altogether), SB Nation’s current system of paid contributors falls under this umbrella. The new law states that independent contractors can only submit 35 posts per year until they have to be classified as employees subject to minimum wage and benefit laws, among others.
Unfortunately, I am one of these paid contributors who has been given a pink slip. I have been given the option to work under an amended contract until March 1st, 2020 provided I don’t eclipse 35 posts in that time period, after which I will no longer be Anaheim Calling’s Managing Editor.
The future of the podcast with Jake Rudolph and Felix Sicard is also up in the air. They are currently discussing their options, but what we can promise is that the podcast will continue on in one form or another.
I am extremely lucky to not be significantly affected by this change outside of my pride being hurt, as the money does not move the needle much for me compared to my day job. Others are not so lucky.
weird laura, because my role at sb nation pays my rent + internet, and is now going to be eliminated. thanks for the concern, though! https://t.co/jmHHC8Hj7H— sie ✨ (@nowyousieme) December 16, 2019
While I admire the spirit of the law to try to get corporations to stop abusing the independent contractor benefits and definitions, this type of scorched-earth implementation of the law with little regard for how companies would react and why many of us actually enjoy the current system shows a lack of foresight that has unfortunately become common amongst the political elite on both sides of the aisle.
It’s also not as simple as some of the hot takes of, “just make every paid contributor an employee”. That’s not as realistic or as easy a scenario as the authors of this bill and other hot takes on Twitter might lead you to believe. Having worked with a variety of high level corporate executives and processes over my relatively short professional career, it is readily apparent that this kind of move is way more difficult than one might think.
At the same time, the notice for this change to all of us was minimal to none, with many learning of their pink slips from the original SB Nation announcement. There are also a lot of questions surrounding how the California sites will be managed moving forward. We are honestly in the dark and worried about the health of these communities we have given so much of our time and effort to.
The contributors who are not myself who write for Anaheim Calling will not see their roles change, and you can continue to expect the usual great content we strive to put out for the foreseeable future.
SB Nation is currently hiring a new team of full employees, both part time and full time, to create and edit a lot of the content on team sites, although we do not know the smaller details of how this will work yet. I hesitate to call the people who end up filling these roles “scabs” (a term for writers who take advantage of media openings vacated by people who have lost their jobs due to cuts like SB Nation has made), mostly because this will be a team staffed with full employees with Vox Union fair wages and benefits and will likely be filled by former paid contributors who have already done amazing work for their communities for years. However, in full disclosure, I also hesitate to use the term “scab” because I am interested in one of these positions. You are free to have your opinions on me given this view, but I try to operate on complete transparency and honesty. You all deserve at least that much from me.
There is deservedly a lot of controversy and criticism surrounding this law and SB Nation’s response to it. I will be in the comments of this article to answer any questions you might have or listen to any feedback you can think of. All I ask is that you keep things civil and respectful, as there is a lot of very good and productive conversations to be had around this situation.
Regardless of what happens, what I can promise you is that I will continue to write for Anaheim Calling in some capacity. My passion for telling the stories of the Anaheim Ducks and the NHL have not faded in the slightest, even if my role will be changing. We also have an incredible staff of contributors here who will continue to bring you the best coverage they can.
I can’t promise Anaheim Calling won’t change in the future. That much is out of my control past March 1st. What I can promise is that this community will continue to thrive and will continue to be the best source of community in the Ducks fandom while I am still in charge.
Thank you so much to every single one of our readers and followers as we transition into a new and unknown era. You all have made this experience one of the greatest of my life.
– CJ Woodling, Managing Editor for Anaheim Calling
As previously mentioned, the comments in this article are open for discussion and questions. We will be moderating the threads because there are some sensitive political issues at the center of this situation, but we want to encourage as much open and free discussion as possible. Please be civil, don’t resort to personal attacks, and do your best to make arguments in good faith.