As promised, Uber and Lyft, as well as Postmates, Instacart, and Doordash, have announced Proposition 22—also known as “Protect App-Based Drivers and Services Act.” This ballot measure will appear before California voters in the November election. Two labor advocacy groups believe the ballot, if passed, would lower workers’ wages and limit the power of legislators to institute new labor protections.
According to Bloomberg CityLab, Proposition 22 is backed by $110 million from Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Instacart, and Doordash. Those companies claim their workers want to maintain their status as independent contractors; however, the National Employment Law Project and the Partnership for Working Families believes the measure would remove existing protects that give certain gig workers full employment rights.
Proposition 22 came to fruition after delivery and ride-hailing companies avoided complying with California’s AB5, which gives employee status to some workers, along with benefits like sick leave and unemployment insurance.
According to the labor groups, “The ballot proposition is regressive and deeply harmful, and should be rejected by voters.” A spokesperson for the Proposition 22 campaign, however, disagrees: “That’s what Proposition 22 does: It protects the nearly 1 million Californians who choose this work, and it provides new benefits and a guaranteed earning rate, and it protects against discrimination and harassment. At the end of the day it saves these jobs, and these services, both for the drivers and for consumers.”
If companies like Uber and Lyft comply with AB5, it could pose an economic threat. University of California, Berkley researchers estimated that treating independent contractors as employees could have cost Uber and Lyft $400 million in unemployment insurance between 2014 and 2019.
In the event Proposition 22 passes, workers would get at least 120% of the state or local minimum wages and an additional 30 cents per mile driver to cover expenses like fuel and cell phone bills. However, researchers estimate that the average driver working fulltime would end up making nearly $300 less per week than under the current law.
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