ASTA director of advocacy Genevieve Strand testified on
Thursday before the New York State Assembly's labor committee about why travel
advisors should continue to be able to be classified as independent contractors
as they are today. A new labor bill would bring changes.
New York this year introduced legislation that would make it difficult for travel advisors to be categorized as ICs. The
legislation is similar to a law passed in California earlier this year, but travel
advisors lobbied for an exemption in California and got one.
In New York, the legislation introduced would require travel
advisors to "perform work that is outside the usual course of the hiring
entity’s business." Under that condition, travel agencies couldn't use
The New York legislature is technically in recess but Strand
said it held a hearing on the gig economy this week. Strand walked the
committee through the way the bill's language is written and why it is
problematic for the travel industry. The information was well received, she
"I think it was an interesting change of pace to hear about
some of the folks that [the bill's authors] weren't thinking about in this
bill, but that wind up being sort of collateral damage," Strand said. "I think
they were surprised."
She encouraged lawmakers to look at how recent labor bills were
written in other states. In New Jersey, for example, independent contractors can
either perform work outside of what the hiring entity does or perform the same
kind of work but from outside the hiring entity's physical location. The latter
condition enables travel agencies to use ICs.
Though legislation was introduced in New York this year, it
would have to be reintroduced next year when the legislature reconvenes,
something ASTA expects to happen.
In the interim, ASTA is encouraging members in New York to
use its grassroots portal
to send messages to legislators. In the new year, Strand said, ASTA will begin
setting up in-person meetings with legislators.