As the debate over California Assembly Bill 5 (AB-5) rages on, local business owners are speaking out about what the law is doing to kill the American Dream. This is not just a law about Uber and Lyft drivers. This is a law that could change the way business is handled in our country's largest state economy. While some businesses are getting exemptions, others are left to fight alone!
Martha Baez is a Unit Franchise Owner at Stratus Building Solutions, the nation's leading commercial cleaning franchise, which is based in California. She came to the U.S. as a child. She had to learn English and she is now the owner of her own business.
"I do feel like I own my own business because I am in charge of everything,” Baez says. “I am the one that makes the decisions."
AB-5, and how it defines “employee” is threatening to destroy what Baez, and so many like her, have built.
There have already been several exemptions added to this law, most recently with AB-2257, which exempts freelance writers, photojournalists, real estate appraisers, musicians and many more. This does nothing to help those in the franchise industry which appear to be forgotten.
"Most of them are going to leave the system,” says Chris Wegner, a Stratus Master Franchise Owner in Northern California. “They are not interested in being employees. They want to have their own business. You know some of them have invested their whole life savings to start a business a franchise with Stratus."
Stratus Building Solutions is just one of the many companies this law is affecting. And it's a company under the direction of a CEO who knows what its like to come to a new country to try to make a living.
Stratus CEO, Afshin Cangarlu, came to the U.S. when he was 13 with his family. They were escaping the Iranian Revolution. Now he's in a fight to make sure opportunities to create personal success remain for immigrants like him, and for other hardworking people who want to build their own businesses.
“They have put all of their eggs are in the Stratus Building Solutions basket and they are able to build a full-scale family enterprise,” Cangarlu said. “The next thing you know they are growing and hiring their own employees and they own a business. It's a beautiful thing!”
And this is what could be destroyed if the law remains.