13 AUG 2019: The Skal USA members are very concerned about the possibility of Assembly Bill 5, in the California Legislature, becoming law in October 2019. This could mean over 11,000 California Travel Advisors, who are working as independent contractors serving the travel industry, may be forced to lose or leave their jobs.

David Ryan, vice-president of Membership for Skål International USA, and a member of Skal Sacramento, explains, "Our club (Skal Sacramento), has 18 Travel Advisors who will be directly affected if this bill passes. It would not only be devastating for the Skål members to lose their jobs, but the thousands of visitors they jointly offer California vacation packages could go away."

According to the California Tourism Association, California tourism industry generated around $140 billion in spending in 2018.

The Bill  would make it harder for companies to label workers as independent contractors instead of employees, a practice that has allowed businesses to skirt state and federal labor laws.

California businesses have been panicking over the possibility of the bill passing. The state’s Chamber of Commerce and dozens of industry groups have been lobbying for exemptions, and a number of professions have already been excluded from the bill: doctors, dentists, lawyers, architects, insurance agents, accountants, engineers, financial advisers, real estate agents, and hairstylists who rent booths at salons.

Industry groups argued that these professionals are true independent contractors, with their own businesses and power to negotiate work contracts.

Lisa Conway, Skål USA President, recently wrote in a letter to California state senators, "Independent travel advisors - who are primarily women and are all small business owners - are an integral part of the travel industry. They have the freedom to set their own hours and schedules, set their own rates, select the customers with whom they will work and market their own brands. In its current form, Assembly Bill 5 puts this system, beneficial to agencies and independent advisors alike, at great risk."

"We are very concerned if this law passes in California, it may only be the beginning of this type of law throughout the United States, not only effecting the almost 300 travel advisors in Skål USA, but all of the other hospitality industry workers who support tourism," said Conway.

Skål USA has asked the California legislators to amend Assembly Bill 5 to preserve the independent contractor model that has existed in the tourism hospitality industry for decades and provides opportunities for thousands of small business owners.


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