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Independent Contractors’ Bill, Horrible Imaginings Film Fest, Radio Station Is Window To Community

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The fight over rights and benefits for workers in the gig economy is heating up at the state Capitol. Also, the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary this weekend and a radio station in the Central Valley stands as a cultural “town hall” for the local Hmong and Punjabi-speaking communities.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 The fight over rights and benefits for workers and the Gig economy is heating up at the state capitol where a controversial bill faces a key vote. Today the bill is assembly bill five authored by Democratic Assembly woman, Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego. It would codify a state supreme court ruling that makes it harder for companies to classify workers as independent contractors.

Speaker 2: 00:21 If you're a good worker, if you're a truck driver, if you're a janitor and you're working for the company, you're doing the basic work for that company, you are their employee and you actually deserve everything that any of us in any other job get the right to minimum wage, the right to overtime, the right to paid sick days, paid family leave, unemployment insurance, workers' compensation.

Speaker 1: 00:47 That was Lorena Gonzalez who spoke at a rally in San Diego yesterday calling for the passage of the bill that is being debated in Sacramento right now. KQ Eds, government and politics reporter Katie or is there and joined us with the latest. Katie, welcome. Thanks for having me. So Katie, what is happening right now? Where does the bill stand? Right? Um, ab five is being heard in the Senate appropriations committee today. Twice a year, the appropriations committees in the Senate and the assembly go through what they call their suspense files. These are bills they have put off acting on until now and today is their deadline to do that. So, um, the committees go through these hundreds of bills in rapid fire fashion, either saying they're dead for the year or they can move forward to a vote on the floor. Um, ab five again, will be taken up by the Senate Appropriations Committee today and it's a largely expected that it will make it out and remind us, ab five stems from the so called dynamex state Supreme Court ruling.

Speaker 1: 01:50 What did that ruling say? That ruling in 2018 changed how workers in California can be classified as either employees versus a a contractor. Um, and what it said was if you are someone performing a core function of a business, for instance, if you drive for Uber, their core function is driving, right? You should be classified as an employee and not a contractor. And this can have huge ramifications for a lot of industries, but especially these gig economies that have largely, um, relied on contractors to make their businesses work well. Who would be affected by the bill and what would it change from independent contractor to employee mean for workers? The change for workers means a many of the things that we just heard assembly woman Gonzalez say in that clip, the companies would have to give them benefits. They would have to provide them with things like I'm sick days and a minimum wage and they would have different kinds of protections under the law that they don't get right now.

Speaker 1: 03:00 Um, but it is tricky because there are a lot of industries out there that have been operating on a contractor model for a very long time outside of these tech companies. And they are worried that this bill could really upend how they do their jobs. And you know, of course the bill would not apply across the board to all independent contractors. Can you tell us about the professions that would be exempt? Well, what's interesting is the test from the supreme court was actually very broad. And so as Lorena Gonzales is writing this bill, she has been um, working with different industries and granting exemptions, writing in exemptions to the bill for a lot of these industries that could be affected. For instance, doctors are largely contractors, dentists, real estate agents, hairstylists, salespeople. And we expect that these negotiations for these carve-outs will continue up until, you know, the very last minute, uh, there are two weeks left in session.

Speaker 1: 04:03 A bill has to be published in its final form for three days, 72 hours before it can be voted on. And so conceivably up until that time you can be changing the bill. How our gig companies such as Uber and Lyft responding, well, you know, they're not happy. They have a told me that, you know, why they point out that all these other industries are getting exemptions and they're not, you know, so why are they different? And but as of this moment, it seems like they have largely accepted that ab five will go through and will likely be signed. What they are pushing now is another bill they would like to see passed with specific protections and specific requirements for workers in the Gig economy. Essentially creating like a third class of workers in California and they say if they don't get that bill a bill, they like in this final two weeks of this legislative session, they will take it to the voters and they will put forward a ballot initiative.

Speaker 1: 05:08 And in fact, Uber, Lyft and door dash have all confirmed that they are putting at least $30 million each into a campaign account to, you know, promote this ballot initiative for the 2020 ballot. What about governor Newsome? Has He weighed in? Yes, governor Newsome is kind of, he's trying to thread a needle right between his support for labor unions, which are, um, in, in full support of ab five and would love to see, um, workers in the Gig economy classified as workers because obviously that's a chance to unionize them, right? Get more members. Um, but Newsome is also trying to show some support for the tech industry, which has been, um, you know, donated him millions of dollars to his, you know, his campaign accounts over the years. And he also believes that there should be a third classification. You can't, you know, something in between employee and contractor. And that is why his office has been negotiating with these tech companies. Um, what that will look like in the end and whether he supports a ballot measure, he has not said. Um, so it's all very much in flux right now. I've been speaking with Katie or politics and government reporter at KCU e d Katie, thanks so much for joining us. You're welcome.

Speaker 3: 06:33 Mm.

Speaker 1: 00:00 Horrible imaginings film festivals started in San Diego and now it takes place at the Frida cinema in Orange County. KPBS arts reporter, Beth Doc Amando previews the festivals 10th year with its founder and executive director, Miguel Rodriguez, Miguel. Horrible Imaginings Film Festival is entering its 10th year. You started this festival here in San Diego and last year you moved it to Orange County. So what was the motivation for moving it?

Speaker 2: 00:28 Well, largely the motivation for moving it was to, we got an offer from an art house cinema in Santa Ana in Orange County and it was a great size cinema. And their enthusiasm was intoxicating because it ha finding a home and a venue in San Diego has always been an up hill battle. And uh, and, and finding a venue that really fits what we're doing has been really challenging. So, uh, you know, we were at the Museum of photographic arts for the last three years that we were here and it got to be financially extremely burdensome, not just for the theater itself, but for being in bubble park, which closes early and there's no food. So we had to buy food to bring it in and there were just so many challenges that the uh, dual mode of them wanting us to be there and US having so much trouble here, it just really facilitated the choice to to move even though it was a tough choice

Speaker 1: 01:33 in watching some of the films, because I'm one of the judges, so I'm getting to see a lot of the movies that you are running. Full disclosure. Yeah. Full disclosure, one of the judges, but one of the things I've noticed this year, and it's not something that's particularly new, but I think just seeing a number of films in a row that were similar brought this to my attention, but there are a number of films this year that work without dialogue. I wanted to talk to you a little bit just about what it is about horror that I think does lend itself to this kind of wordless narrative and makes it very kind of global and international because you can show that anywhere without subtitles. Yeah, I think there are a couple of things

Speaker 2: 02:14 going on. I'm glad you brought up the international aspect. I think one of my favorite dialogue, free short films that we have is from Mexico.

Speaker 3: 02:24 Uh,

Speaker 2: 02:25 and it does make it universal. And one thing that we're trying to show is that we can come together. Different types of people can come together because of fears so universal that that emotion is so universal. So there's that aspect, but also there's just something about the leaving out words that kind of makes it a little more nightmarish. It makes it a little more ethereal, a little less real dialog and words tend to ground things in a way that them potentially, it makes them familiar and a little less

Speaker 4: 03:03 scary. Whereas without the dialogue, it has this effect.

Speaker 2: 03:08 The fact that

Speaker 4: 03:09 maybe you're dreaming, maybe something is askew

Speaker 2: 03:13 that is a little hard to describe.

Speaker 4: 03:17 And if done correctly, it can be very effective.

Speaker 2: 03:21 There's one film called lovers that a, we're world premiering and it's all about not just abusive relationship, but more interestingly to me why someone chooses to stay in an abusive relationship. I find that really interesting. I find it really, uh, more personal

Speaker 5: 03:38 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 03:40 and we talked about these homes that are wordless, but there was one film I saw that really jumped out for me that is very scripted. How to be alone. Oh yeah. Had a great script of someone who's just trying to spend some time by themselves and letting their patients,

Speaker 6: 03:57 let me go crazy. It's not so bad. Just follow the steps. Don't slip into old habits. Stick to the plan. The truth is it doesn't matter. You've always been alone. You always will be. So

Speaker 2: 04:21 how about the visual medium? The, this is picture with words, right? It's really, the words are used to describe an emotion or to instill an emotion rather than tallow. A, a kind of more traditional type story that was actually written and directed by one of the writers from stranger things, the show. But you know, I like it better even than the show stranger things. So, uh, I'm excited to show that one.

Speaker 1: 04:44 And I just recently spoke to the organizers from the San Diego underground film festival here in San Diego and like them, you also have some live performance. So you have a a ballet component. Yeah.

Speaker 2: 04:59 Yes. Yeah. I like ballet and I like it in a horror context because being a ballet dancer means you're doing horrible things to your body and things that seem unnatural and traditionally they are unnaturally beautiful there. You know, the grace that is on display is something that we look at as divine, but what we have is a troop doing a Zombie Ballet. So it's taking something unnatural to present something darkly unnatural. Part of our mission is to, to show horror and a variety of art and, uh, and this is trying to adhere to that mission.

Speaker 1: 05:44 All right. Well, I want to thank you very much for talking about horrible imaginings. Thank you for inviting me on. It's always a pleasure. That was Beth OCHA, Mondo speaking with horrible imaginings. Miguel Rodriguez. The film festival starts tonight and runs through Sunday at the Fritas cinema in Orange County.

Speaker 1: 00:00 There are 250 am radio stations in California, each a window into a different cultural community in Fresno. A station called K B I f is changing along with the central valley as part of our California dream collaboration. Julia metric visited the station and she brings us this story. In 1954 when KBF went on the air, it was a big band station, but evangelical radio was on the rise and by the early sixties the format changed. We used to be a real hot area for tent revivals. Tony Denatto is KBI F's general manager. He started working here in high school, 1979 he says back then, pastors from the Bible belt hosted live radio shows and they would have a tent revival over on Dakota and Hughes Avenue come this Friday, Saturday and Sunday for our tent revival and get healed. In the 80s and nineties immigration was changing the central valley. Fresno became home to mung refugees fleeing Laos and Vietnam and Punjabi immigrants from India

Speaker 2: 01:09 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 01:09 So in the late eighties KBI ef added Punjabi music, religious programs, and local talk shows. The next time to buddy a kid saga. So please audit a gallon [inaudible] share. Gil, he's had a weekend show for 16 years. He and his family came to Fresno from the Punjab region of India during a large migration that began in the 90s he was 14 the Punjabi American community in the Fresno County area. They were kind of lost. I felt I was lost, so that was my approach. I was like, you know, we need to do something about it or it's better than media, better than a radio.

Speaker 2: 01:42 Y'All have to pick the name tickets. [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 01:48 oh please. Punjabi hip hop. He also talks about issues. He thinks matter to the local Punjabi community, water security, immigration, hate crimes. He says Punjabi truckers or some of his bedrock supporters. Like about two weeks ago, one of the trucker he was driving when my show was on, he parked his truck and he said, I'm going to listen to the whole thing before I go on growing up. As soon as you know the weekend hit like our radio dial and 2:00 AM 900 that's non deep. Sing a community organizer in Fresno. We meet at a restaurant sync calls the station part town hall part bizarre. You might catch health tips on avoiding hypertension. A few minutes later people are talking politics in the corner. People are just trying to find out the latest music on the side. People are talking about what's happening in the trucking industry and you will run through the litany of that on any given Saturday, but on weekdays the station broadcast talk shows music and adds in Hmong ancient love Reiki lamps, inspection [inaudible] Michael Yang hosts a weekly show with farming advice for about a thousand mung farmers who call Fresno home.

Speaker 1: 02:53 He's been doing it for 20 years. He lists market prices for Asian specialty vegetables that a male and Bok Choy, daikon and long beans on says getting this price check helps mung farmers avoid getting cheated by buyers. During the Collin segment of the show, Yank takes questions from folks listening in their pickups and in the fields they ask, you know, Oh, I have this bugs that are eating my crops and I don't know what chemical to use. Can you come in and look at it? And he does. Looking ahead. One challenge for K, Bif for both the Mung and Punjabi shows is how to get and keep younger listeners. Many are bilingual and there's tons of other media out there for them. So I asked Saturday host, girl, deep share gill, any interest in podcasting? It'll actually a, firstly for me, I like it live like I want to be natural, like I want people to see if I have to even do Leno, it's okay because I'm a human. Okay. And that's what KBF tries to do. Reflect the humanness of this stretch of the central valley and all the ways it continues to change in Fresno. I'm Juliet metric.

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KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.