In record-breaking $200 million fight to preserve the gig economy, messaging doesn’t always need money
If you live in California, Proposition 22 is impossible to ignore because of the work that gig companies have done to spread the word.
The most expensive ballot initiative in the state’s history is about to top $200 million in funding, mostly from gig-economy companies Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc., Instacart, DoorDash Inc. and Postmates, which are seeking to exempt themselves from treating their workers as employees in accordance with state law.
Gig Work on the Ballot in California
In September of 2019, the California state legislature passed Assembly Bill 5. Informally known as the “gig-economy bill,” A.B. 5 aimed to address the challenges faced by people who drive for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart, and other similar companies; so-called gig workers, who are classified as independent contractors, do not receive fundamental worker protections, such as guaranteed minimum wage or paid sick days, no matter how much they drive. “We will not in good conscience allow free-riding businesses to continue to pass their own business costs on to taxpayers and workers,” the bill’s author, the assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, said, following its passage. Six weeks later, Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash launched a campaign to combat the bill. A spokesperson for the effort told the Los Angeles Times, “We’re going to spend what it takes to win.”
Uber CEO says prices could double if drivers become employees, but this economist isn’t buying it
Economist predicts ride-hailing prices would increase by a fraction of Uber’s dire predictions for California, citing new data from New York City after it established a minimum wage for drivers.
What Prop. 22’s defeat would mean for Uber and Lyft — and drivers
One way or another, the business of summoning a ride from your phone is likely to look different in California after Nov. 3.
The future of gig work could hinge on the success or failure of Proposition 22, called the App-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies Initiative. Uber, Lyft and other companies bankrolling the initiative say it would improve workers’ quality of life, providing new benefits while preserving their autonomy. If passed, the measure would cement gig workers’ status as independent contractors, dealing a huge blow to a labor movement striving to bolster protections for workers at the margins.
Gig companies’ business models rely on hiring large numbers of workers cheaply as independent contractors to provide rides, deliver meals and groceries and perform other services. Assembly Bill 5, a state law passed in 2019, aimed to expand protections to these workers, requiring gig companies to reclassify them as employees.
Uber, Lyft Are Spending Millions To Fight Labor Protections For Their Workers
How organized labor is teaming up with app-based workers in California to take on corporate giants.
About a year ago, Steve Smith stood outside a press conference at a hotel in Sacramento where Uber, Lyft and DoorDash announced plans to spend millions on a statewide ballot initiative that would exempt them from a state law requiring the gig economy companies to hire most of their independent contractors as employees. If the workers became employees, they would be entitled to benefits, paid leave, expense reimbursement, the right to collectively organize and other labor protections. Smith, who works for the California Labor Federation, wasn’t allowed in the room so he tried to listen through the door.
Opinion: Uber is attempting to colonize the California government
If you live in California and own a smartphone, or a television, or a mailbox, or a functioning pair of eyes, chances are you have seen ads endorsing the Prop 22 ballot initiative in the state. Uber, Lyft, Doordash, Postmates, Instacart, and other “gig” companies have spent about $186 million so far to trick Californians into voting for this atrocity — by far the most that has ever been spent on any ballot initiative in American history.
Letter | No on Prop. 22: Uber, Lyft don’t help drivers
Santa Cruz Sentinel
Instead of spending close to $100 million to support Proposition 22, Uber and Lyft could have provided employee benefits to their drivers. They don’t want them as employees because they would then be obligated to provided the basic benefits that all California workers are entitled to such as unemployment insurance and state disability. By classifying them as “independent contractors” they avoid paying Social Security and Medicare for these people.
How Uber and Lyft Are Buying Labor Laws
As usual in presidential years, the election night excitement in true-blue California will come not at the top of the ballot, where Democrats are all but assured victory, but from the state’s exhausting experiment with direct democracy. And nestled amongst this year’s 12 ballot measures on everything from taxes to voting rights to criminal justice to data privacy to health care sits perhaps the most consequential labor decision in decades.
Proposition 22 is simple. It carves out an exemption for app-based rideshare and delivery workers, allowing companies like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash to continue misclassifying employees as independent contractors. This exempts those startups from paying minimum wage, carving a loophole in last year’s AB-5 law, which made many independent contractors and freelancers employees and conferred on them a handful of rights and protections. For those workers, it would mean no eligibility for state unemployment insurance, extremely curtailed worker protections, no overtime, no sick leave, no workplace discrimination protection, and no right to collectively bargain
Opinion: Don’t believe what Uber and Lyft claim about Prop. 22
By now, you’ve probably seen some slick ads for Proposition 22, paid for by Uber, Lyft and other app-based companies. They hope you have because they’re spending $181 million to tell you a story.
These so-called gig companies now are waging the most expensive propaganda campaign in state history. They’ve outspent all other special interests that came before them: Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Tobacco.
They know they must spend big, because it costs a lot to confuse the public about the facts.
Press Release 09/17/20: Civil Rights Icon Dolores Huerta Calls on Californians to Reject Prop 22
Says App Companies’ Deceptive Ballot Measure Will Permanently Deepen Racial and Economic Disparities in California
Sacramento, CA – Labor icon and civil rights leader Dolores Huerta today called on voters to reject Uber, Lyft, Doordash’s $181 million campaign to exempt themselves from key labor laws in California by curtailing their workers’ rights to paid sick leave, healthcare, a minimum wage, and unemployment insurance.
A lifelong advocate for initiatives that protect workers and consumers, Dolores Huerta said the app company measure would deepen racial and economic disparities in California. By eroding minimum wage protections, Prop 22 would lock a workforce that is predominantly people of color – and almost a quarter Latino – into permanently low-wage jobs.
“Latinos and communities of color have always borne the brunt of predatory business practices like the ones Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash have used to rake in billions off the backs of their drivers – and Proposition 22 will be no different,” said Dolores Huerta. “Californians can already see straight through the measure’s deceptive rhetoric to know that it will benefit the companies only, making it impossible for drivers to earn a living wage. We will not allow a handful of billion-dollar corporations to roll back decades of hard-won progress on historic labor law protections for workers. I’m urging all Californians to vote NO on Prop 22.”