Uber has launched a $186 million campaign to support Prop 22, which will prevent Uber drivers from being classified as employees. Recently, California passed Assembly Bill 5, which helped workers in the gig economy. As recognized employees, more benefits would be available to the workers. Kurt Nelson, an engineer for Uber, has said the company isn’t acting in the interests of the drivers.
Nelson speaks to why Uber works because of its speed and low cost. However, this is happening because Uber drivers aren’t getting paid when they’re spending time in their cars, waiting for a ride match. Nelson believes workers are providing free labor.
Because drivers aren’t employees, they need to pay for gas, maintaining their vehicle, and insurance. They also don’t have access to health insurance, paid sick time, or minimum wage.
Uber’s campaign to support Proposition 22 is because it’s slightly different from how Assembly Bill 5 would work. The Proposition would still classify workers as independent contractors, but they would get some benefit around health care and expense reimbursement. The time spent waiting for rides is not included.
Nelson isn’t the only Uber critic. Alissa Orlando worked for Uber and explained that the company advertised gross wages, even though workers were earning much less when the costs of being an Uber driver kicked in. In addition to upkeep, gas, and insurance, other costs include self employment taxes and handling car depreciation.
The company relied on being able to recruit more drivers to help them become profitable. While it’s struggling to do so, adding on drivers as employees could cost millions. Prop 22 is how Uber will try to remain profitable. However, the company’s bottom line still inhibits drivers from some benefits available to employees.
Nelson encourages those to research this ballot and question about the employer’s interests vs. their own. If the employer’s interests do not align with empowering their workers, then perhaps they should take this into consideration.
Uber has also responded to Nelson, saying that voters and employees should research this matter for themselves so they know all the facts. Uber claims that 72% of drivers support Prop 22 after hearing responses from 718 gig economy workers.
Uber’s CEO has also spoken out for Prop 22 and said that the reclassification as employees could mean hundreds of thousands of drivers could lose their opportunity to work overnight. Nelson disagrees with this because the company will try to cut costs wherever they can because it will increase profits. He maintains that Prop 22 will deny workers from the rights they deserve.