SAN DIEGO — Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez was confronted today by several dozen dancers outside of her office in San Diego as they protested a bill that would penalize employers who misclassify workers as “independent contractors” rather than “employees.”
The protesting dancers, many of whom work at local strip clubs, say they prefer to be classified as independent contractors as it gives them more freedom over their working hours.
“I don’t want to be told what to do — when and where to work,” said one of the protestors. “That’s why I’m an independent contractor, not an employee.”
Gonzalez explained that her bill (AB 5) supports the state supreme court’s ruling that companies must prove their workers are independent contractors rather than employees — and notes that it primarily targets such companies as Lyft and Uber — because the state’s courts have settled the strip club issue.
“The court already decided on exotic dancers — they are employees. Clubs are cheating their workers [but] this bill doesn’t affect these folks,” Gonzalez said. “This bill will ensure they’re paid minimum wage, get paid (overtime) if they worked more than 40 hours a week [and] will make sure they have workers compensation — ensure they have healthcare.”
“An independent contractor is supposed to be a small business,” Gonzalez added, asking the protestors, “Do you really think every Uber driver is their own small business?”
The bill is not without its backers among sex worker supporters, however, some of whom have worked to obtain better career paths and working conditions for those within the industry.
“I am alongside Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez speaking to exotic dancers about why we, as adult performers, and they, as exotic dancers, deserve protections as employees,” says Alana Evans of the Adult Performers Actors Guild (APAG). “Lorena asked me to attend this protest by her side.”
AB 5 is set to be taken up by the Labor Committee in early March.
A video of the protest is available here.