In 2017, the ILO estimated that some 55 million Americans – so about 6.6 million Californians – were employed in “gig economy” work. Ballot Proposition 22, which appears on the California ballot in the upcoming election, is of critical importance for the human rights and future livelihoods of these workers.

Prop 22, more formally known as the App-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies Initiative (2020), is an initiative which is co-sponsored by rideshare services Uber and Lyft along with delivery driver service Doordash. The initiative comes in response to California Assembly Bill AB 5, passed in September 2019, which codified into law the California State Supreme Court decision on Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles. The law more fully defines which hires must be considered full-on employees as opposed to contract labor.

Since the enactment into law of AB 5, Uber and Lyft specifically have simply chosen to ignore it, continuing to employ workers as independent contractors. On August 10, a California Superior Court handed down a decision ordering the two rideshare companies to reclassify their workers from independent contractors to employees, with commensurate benefits due these employees under extant state law.

Passage of Prop 22 would allow app-based rideshare and food-delivery services an exception to state law, thus allowing the continued classification of such workers as “independent contractors.” If the state law were followed, app-based services would be obligated to pay at least the state-mandated minimum wage of $12/hour (estimates put the average income of an Uber or Lyft driver at $10.16/ hour); health insurance and workers’ comp (they currently provide none); and paid leave (ditto).

PR from the Uber/Lyft/Doordash-funded campaign “Yes on 22 – Save App-Based Jobs & Services” claims that a “yes” vote on Prop 22 means preserving “the ability of app-based drivers to choose to work as independent contractors,” which certainly few would prefer over an automatic raise of $1.84/hour on average plus health benefits.

Uber and Lyft executives have also publicly stated that a NO vote on Prop 22 could mean the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in California due to their companies’ withdrawal from the state. True enough, though the claim comes off a bit disingenuously, as these companies have spent hundreds of hours in court arguing that these are not actually jobs. Additionally, with so much money to be made – Uber Technologies alone reported $4.1 billion in total revenue in 2019 – surely another rideshare company willing to treat employees fairly would enjoy profiting in this huge market.

Peace & Freedom Party encourages Californians to VOTE NO on PROP 22 in the November election to support the rights and futures of these often-overlooked workers in our society.

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