A quick opinion: The end of paperboys

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The people who work under the dome in Sacramento passed a law that eliminates most independent contractors. They called it AB 5 and were trying to make ride sharing companies, like Lyft and Uber, turn their drivers into employees. They knew that their actions would affect other industries and exempted several professions, like barbers, hair stylist, real estate agents and a few others. They didn’t continue the policy of making newspapers exempt for paper carriers and part time writers. I’m not sure all independent contractors want to be employees, but they won’t have that choice to make, anymore. Someone will be telling them what to do, when to do it and when they can take time off. How do paperboys, or carriers, come into this discussion? Daily papers have hundreds, if not thousands of people who receive their papers, usually early in the morning, and deliver their routes before they go to their real jobs. Some drivers deliver up to 7 different newspapers along their routes. Working an extra couple of hours a day helps keep their heads above water. Some are young people enjoying their first paying job. I’m not sure what the daily papers are going to do about the new law, but I think most community newspapers will turn to the mail to deliver their papers. Most weekly papers already use the post office to deliver their out of town and rural routes, and it will be easy to convert the remaining routes to the mail. Having part time writers may also be a thing of the past. Paying someone to take a picture may become a problem if you can only use employees for newspaper content. The Express has used carriers, both boys and girls, for 35 years or so. I can remember looking out at the kids, rolling their papers, getting ready to throw their bag over their handlebars, to do their routes. There were times when I didn’t recognize someone and I would ask, “who are you?” They might be a brother, friend or parent. It didn’t really matter to me, as long as someone was doing the route and not me. For a lot of carriers, this was their first job, and we had to help them cash their checks, and explain how street numbers work. I stressed to the carriers that if they didn’t show up, they weren’t fired, they quit by not showing up. Over all the years there were only a couple no shows. It was a good learning experience for them, and there was always a waiting list of kids wanting the job. What will be the difference if they have to be employees? Their parents, friends or relatives will no longer be allowed to fill in for them. If you walk past the front counter you will have to be an employee, with sick and vacation days, worker’s compensation insurance and state and federal withholding taxes. Your pay may actually go down if you used to do your route in 45 minutes, or so. If I drove a route for a carrier on vacation or who called in sick, it took me about 30 minutes. The end solution for newspapers will be the loss of jobs for kids and adults. Politicians will talk about the problem with today’s youth; yet vote to eliminate jobs through bad legislation.  If you are still getting your newspaper delivered to your driveway, enjoy it while you can. I’m not sure how Taylor will work with stringers (part time writers that were considered independent contractors). I’m afraid it is just another nail in the coffin of local newspapers.]]>

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