Editor’s Note: The longstanding Bruins Nation Community Guideline prohibiting political discussion on the site is being temporarily suspended for the purpose of this post and others with respect to AB5. AB5 is a piece of legislation passed by the California State Legislature which prohibits freelance writers from publishing more than 35 submissions per year with the same entity.
The news came in an email yesterday morning from John Ness, SB Nation’s Director of Team Brands. My contract with SB Nation to run Bruins Nation will be coming to an end. Exactly when it will end hasn’t been decided yet, but I can tell you that it will be no later than March 31, 2020. In all likelihood, it will probably end sooner than that.
The contracts of most of the rest of the Bruins Nation team will also be ending no later than March 31, 2020 as well.
And, it’s because the politicians in Sacramento think I and the rest of the team shouldn’t be able to make up our own minds regarding whether we want to be freelance writers or not. It’s because the politicians in Sacramento think they can legislate companies into providing people with better paying jobs.
And, as is typical of so many things coming out of Sacramento these days, it’s complete and total bullshit.
Starting on January 1, 2020, the State of California, thanks to Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego and Governor Gavin Newsom (Have you signed the petition to recall Newsom yet? If not, I can get you one!), has made it illegal for freelance writers to be considered freelance writers if the writer publishes more than 35 works per year with the same company.
I’d like to give you an idea of what that means to us here at Bruins Nation.
Typically, I tend to publish about an article a day. In a busy month, I may publish more. In a slow month, I may publish less. So, if you figure that I publish 300-350 articles a year, it might be realistic that my role here at Bruins Nation should be filled by an SB Nation employee.
In fact, I’ve argued for a while that running BN could be a full-time job in and of itself.
The same isn’t true for the rest of the team.
Dimitri, AnteatersandBruins and orlandobruin are also freelance writers and, on average, they tend to write about two articles per week. That totals to about 100 a year, give or take a few because there are times when each of them needs some time for, you know...real life. The announcement which came from SB Nation today also affects orlandobruin, even though he lives in Florida, because he is a freelancer writing for a blog about a California-based team.
There are two members of the BN team who will remain unimpacted by today’s announcement. The first is DCBruin. While he lives outside California, he chose to remain an unpaid contributor when SB Nation first started paying most contributors after Deadspin’s series of articles on SB Nation. The other is Mark Schipper, who writes for us infrequently from time-to-time.
Now, even if we wanted to just end our contracts with SB Nation and not get paid, BN would still be vastly different come next year. That’s because, as intended by the legislation, SB Nation is hiring people to fill certain roles and positions and, while I might be wrong, even if I wanted to run this site for free and contribute as much as I do now, I don’t believe Vox and SB Nation would let me because they would be facing possible liability under California labor laws.
To be sure, each of us has been informed that we will have the opportunity to apply for some of the newly announced positions which were mentioned in John Ness’ article on the SB Nation mothership entitled “Thank you, California.” Some may get one of those opportunities while others may not. At the same time, we all have the chance to remain as “Community Insiders” in an unpaid capacity.
If this is your first time hearing about Assembly Bill 5, I wouldn’t be surprised. I learned about it several months ago and, until today, had been waiting to hear how Vox and SB Nation planned to deal with the new law. Yes, it already passed and Governor Newsom has already signed it.
If you agree with me that this new law is absolutely arbitrary and rather ridiculous, I encourage you to contact the office of Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez at (916) 319-2080 and ask for her Chief of Staff. His name is Evan McLaughlin. I don’t recommend voicing your concerns with whomever answers the phone. They will just try to spin it and tell you how this is actually good for California even if you point to the fact that more than 200 contractors who contribute to SB Nation blogs like Bruins Nation, California Golden Blogs, Rule of Tree, Conquest Chronicles, Athletics Nation, Halo Heaven, Gaslamp Ball, McCovey Chronicles, True Blue LA, Niners Nation, Turf Show Times, Bolts from the Blue, Silver and Black Pride (even though the Raiders just played their last home game in California), Silver Screen and Roll, Clips Nation, Golden State of Mind, Sactown Royalty, Anaheim Calling, Fear the Fin, Jewels from the Crown, Angels on Parade, Center Line Soccer, and LAG Confidential (I hope I didn’t miss one) all just had their employment contracts terminated.
In closing, it’s been almost 51⁄2 years since gbruin and I took over the site from Nestor and, overall, it’s been a good run. While UCLA football program still isn’t on track, Steve Alford is gone and Dan Guerrero will be soon. The fact remains that Guerrero announced his retirement before SB Nation announced these changes, and the changes are only being made at this point because of the legislation passed by the Democrats in Sacramento and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. So, quite literally, it took an act of the State Legislature to remove me from Bruins Nation before Dan Guerrero was out as Athletic Director.
While I’m tempted to spend some time looking back on my time running BN, I’m not really ready to do that yet. After all, I’m not going anywhere yet. The Early Signing Period starts tomorrow and I plan on continue writing about the Bruins until they literally force me out. So, there will be time for that.
But, for now, I wanted each of you to have a better understanding of what was all over Twitter yesterday.