ASTA urging agents to fight for IC exemption in California

Industry associations are urging Californians to call their
legislators, urging them to make the travel industry exempt from new rules for independent
contractors (ICs).

Both ASTA and the California Coalition of Travel
Organizations (CCTO) are working to have agents added to Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5)
as a profession exempt from new IC laws in California.

“It is critical that this legislation be amended to
protect the independent advisor model that has existed in our industry for
decades and provides opportunities for thousands of small business owners,”
ASTA said in its Travel Advisor Daily newsletter.

AB 5 is the Society’s top advocacy priority. The bill passed
in the California Assembly and the Senate is expected to vote on it in the
coming weeks. It addresses the Dynamex decision, which changed the method of
determining whether a worker is an employee or an IC. AB 5 exempts some
industries, but the travel industry isn’t one of them. 

Last year, the California Supreme Court ruled in the case of
Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County that an “ABC
Test” should be used to decide a worker’s status. Previously, the state
had used a common-law test, which takes several factors into consideration. The
ABC test has three parts, one problematic for agencies. It dictates that a
worker must perform work outside the hiring entity’s usual course of business
to be considered an IC.

“Every voice counts, and every IC and agency owner must
stand up for their right to do business and make a living as they see fit,”
said Diane Embry, CCTO president and herself an IC with Michael’s Travel Centre.
“The IC model has worked for the travel industry for well over a half a
century. If AB 5 passes without an exemption for the travel industry, tens of
thousands of individuals will lose their livelihoods and countless travel
agencies will lose business and/or go out of business.”

Embry said the bill’s sponsor, Lorena Gonzalez (D-80), has indicated
she intended to address additional industries as exempt. “But so far
nothing has changed,” Embry said.

ASTA has established a grassroots portal
that can be used to send a message to legislators. Those interested can also
access phone scripts to use to call legislators directly.

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