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Investigative report leads to bill; newspaper execs kill bill

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by wisportswriter, Sep 29, 2015.

  1. The money line:

    The legislation had been introduced because of investigative reporting last year by the state’s two largest newspapers. It died because of newspaper executives’ lobbying.​

    An investigative report by two North Carolina newspapers uncovered a massive labor scheme in which companies treated employees as contractors.
    Legislation was introduced to address the issue, but newspaper executives led a charge to kill the proposal over a provision that eliminated the exemption for newspaper carriers as contractors.

    Here's the story:
    Bill to curb tax, labor cheating likely to die for this year
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2015
  2. Danwriter

    Danwriter New Member

    They've been pulling that with freelancers for decades.
  3. franticscribe

    franticscribe Well-Known Member

    No, this is different. A freelancer is legitimately an independent contractor in most instances, working a few hours a week with significant control over how they get their work done.

    Carriers look very much like regular employees, but they're not classified as such by most newspapers because they don't want to pay for health, unemployment or liability insurance.
  4. Riptide

    Riptide Well-Known Member

    My former newspaper, a major metro, made a habit of laying off editors and then rehiring them as freelancers, for as much as 40 hours a week and overtime. There's a lot of that going around.

    Then they had to cut the hours back to 30 so they wouldn't get sued, but it's definitely a dodge to avoid paying benefits and taxes. Some nights the freelancers outnumbered the full-timers, and that's not good for a lot of reasons.
  5. Sounds like a good bill. And a chance for a state senator vendetta against some newspapers to strike a blow.
    I think he's partially right; newspapers are wrong to count carriers as contractors, but the requirement of comp and unemployment bennies goes a bit far.
  6. franticscribe

    franticscribe Well-Known Member

    It's ridiculous that a pissing match between a state senator and the newspaper association would derail a bill that would extend important protections to laborers and that would bring in hundreds of millions of otherwise lost tax revenue.

    Riptide, the situation you are describing sounds like those newspapers are potentially putting themselves at risk of having to pay a significant workman's compensation claim. Of course, there's a much lower risk of an editor having a serious workplace injury than there is of a carrier - or a construction worker - so the companies may see that as a tolerable risk. If you read the whole Contract to Cheat series that McClatchy put together, you'll see that so far the IRS and state equivalents have shown little interest in recouping the lost revenue.
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