Uber and Lyft drivers in California are claiming poor working conditions have persisted and pay has decreased since the passing of Proposition 22, which enabled some major tech firms to ignore state labor laws.
In an article from The Guardian, drivers and labor groups who opposed Proposition 22 for fears of it allowing companies to sidestep their obligations to provide standard minimum wages and benefits are seeing their concerns come to life.
Peter Young, a rideshare driver in Los Angeles, said, “It’s clear that as soon as Prop 22 passed, it was open season to start cutting my pay again. I’m looking for other work. I can’t keep doing this at this pay. I’m doing food delivery right now. Everyone is ordering food online so there’s demand. It’s just that what they are choosing to pay me isn’t reliable anymore and it’s getting lower. If you try to earn money, just purely on the delivery fee, it comes out to about $5 an hour. A good day for more is maybe earning $100 before has and expenses off eight hours of work.”
Labor economist at the University of California, Berkeley studied the effects of Prop 22 and found that it guarantees a minimum wage of $5.64 an hour, but that is because only engaged time is accounted for in the wage calculations. As of January 2021, the minimum wage in California is $14 per hour and $13 per hour for employers with fewer than 25 employees.
Another rideshare driver, Ben Valdez, noted feeling misled about how Prop 22 would change the industry for workers: “A lot of drivers were duped because they expected they were magically going to be able to qualify for benefits that the companies made it sound like they were going to pay for upfront and that drivers were going to be getting reimbursement for the mileage. They also made drivers believe that if Prop 22 didn’t pass, then Uber and Lyft were going to leave the state of California because they couldn’t afford to pay drivers as employees.”
Recently, the California Fair Political Practices Commission proposed a $3,371 fine against Lyft for deceptive campaign ads in support of Prop 22. A class-action lawsuit has also been filed against Uber by 4,800 drivers who are demanding back pay and benefits for the time the company refused to comply with AB5 prior to the passing of Prop 22.
Uber and Lyft did not respond to request for comments on the drop in pay or drivers’ concerns.