A bill in the California state Assembly would require adult performers to get a business license and undergo a couple of hours of training aimed at informing them of their rights as workers. AB-2389 would mandate a state-approved training course, which would cover "information on reporting workplace injuries, sexual harassment, and sex trafficking," which frankly sounds like a good idea.

The exact requirements for the training would be developed by the California Department of Industrial Relations, with input from a board appointed by the governer. The board would be made up of "two adult film actors, three dancers, two medical doctors, a therapist, and a money manager" — and again, that sounds like a good mix of people to give adult entertainers, including webcam performers, some basic information on how to not be exploited by sleazy employers. Not surprisingly, the nice libertarian folks who report on the bill at Reason are worried that the heavy hand of government could do far more harm than good. Do you want porn to work as badly as the Post Office? Fortunately, no warnings of little-death panels, at least not yet.


The bill was introduced by Democratic assemblymembers Lorena Gonzalez and Christina Garcia, after a proposal from the International Entertainment Adult Union, which represents adult actors, film crews, and exotic dancers. Gonzalez was the sponsor of California's AB-5, which sought to give greater labor protections to "independent contractors" like Uber and Lyft drivers. This time out, though, Gonzalez says she signed on because the IAEU union wanted it, although she wouldn't vote for it unless some oversights are fixed.

For instance, thanks to a drafting error, the bill as currently written would appear to only extend the licensure to performers over the age of 21, but that's because 18-to-20 year-olds were supposed to get a longer training class than the two hours for over-21s — but the clause referring to the younger performers got left out altogether. Oops! And while there were supposed to be 10 members on the advisory board, the draft only lists specific requirements for nine positions.

Also, some adult entertainment locals affiliated with IAEU are strongly opposed to it. The Adult Performers Actors Guild (APAG, and no, no apostrophe's even though it look's wrong) is pretty mad about it, saying it wasn't consulted by the parent union or the sponsors; it objects to the muddy language, and also to the possibility that the bill might "force some performers to submit to licensing inspections at their homes if that's also their primary place of business." It's not clear if planned amendments fixing those issues would win APAG's support.

While those kinks need to be ironed out — not to kink-shame or anything — the basic thrust of the bill seems like a good idea, to establish some protections for workers in an industry that has a reputation for being pretty goddamn exploitative. (As a sidebar, we'd note that's the reason a lot of strippers are fans of AB-5; a group called "Soldiers of Pole" lobbied Gonzales to include exotic dancers as a group covered by the law.)

Reason, as you'd expect, is against nanny state intrusion into the porn labor market, arguing that "sex workers have plenty of reasons to be apprehensive about the expansion of the regulatory state" and fretting that a two-hour training requirement could "be expanded to become more onerous over time." For instance, what if all those buff pizza delivery guys have to prove they have commercial drivers licenses, too?

But forgive us if we're not especially reassured by Reason's insistence that "So far, unlicensed performers have done a pretty good job of staffing up the adult entertainment industry." That might be news to the workers who've been complaining about lax safety protections, harassment, and lousy labor rights. Compared to that, laws intended to protect adult performers' rights hardly look like a naked power grab.

[Reason / Complex / Mic]

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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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