This article was originally published on 06/28/19. With new information and corrections, along with an urgent call to action, we felt it was important to republish the article with changes.
Recently, the California Senate has begun to push through a bill that would shake the foundations of how Independent Travel Advisors work in the state of California. This model, that has worked for decades, creates an environment for travel advisors to utilize the resources of host companies without the commitment of being considered an employee and frees them up to remain a sovereign individual in the business world. The bill is California Assembly Bill 5.
The bill was born from the court case Dynamex Operations West v. Superior Court. Because they were utilizing their own vehicles, they were considered independent contractors. But they were also utilizing their own vehicles to delivery. This presented a confliction in labeling their work force. In 2018, the court decided in favor of the drivers and began to use the “ABC” test to check if a worker should be considered an employee or independent contractor. The test breaks down as follows:
- The individual must be free from control and direction of the business
- The individual performs work outside of the usual course of the business
- The individual is customarily engaged in work that is similar in nature
If the individual meets the requirements above, they will be considered an independent contractor. The issue for the independent travel advisor arises in rule B. Since both host and advisor work as a team to book travel, this puts the current relationship between the two at risk if this bill passes.
The Reasons for Action
This bill has gained momentum due to the debate of whether Uber and Lyft drivers should be considered employees. Which, at this time, is primarily geared toward providing minimum wages and overtime pay. Regardless of one’s stance with these companies, it is obvious that this should not apply to independent travel advisors. As the model host companies follow is drastically different in nature. For one, it is meant to be a symbiotic relationship between host and advisor; meaning, the advisor pays fees to have access to tools that they would not normally have access to. Secondly, the hours worked by an advisor do not equal profit in the travel industry. Profit, for both parties, is based on bookings.
There is no doubt that this bill must be amended to exclude the almost 10,000 independent travel advisors in California. And, given the nature of bills passed in one state to set a precedent for others, could put far more independent travel advisors and host companies at risk of this spreading.
What can you do?
As a travel advisor, whether with a host or working alone, you can do your part to convince the California Senate that amendments must be made to this bill to protect advisors who will be adversely affected by the current wording.
If you are a resident of California:
- Visit the grassroots portal that ASTA has created.
- Find your local state senator at http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/
- Use documents provided by the California Coalition of Travel Organizations (CCTO) to help formulate a response that will be effective. You can download them below by clicking on the links.
- For Independent Agents: CCTO Call to Action Independent Agent Script
- For Tour Operators: CCTO Call to Action Travel Agency-Tour Operator Script
If you are not a resident of California:
- Spread the message throughout your community through word-of-mouth or social media.
Boost the signal so that this bill does not affect your fellow travel advisors, tour operators, and possibly yourself in the future.