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.”
Op-ed by Driver Derrick Baker: Uber Is Hurting Drivers Like Me in Its Legal Fight in California
New York Times
— I love to drive. Before Uber, I was a car service owner-operator for 10 years and got a thrill out of meeting new people while making my way around San Francisco, a place I’ve called home for over 30 years. I drove my black Mercedes sedan full-time five to six days a week, and counted myself lucky. When my wife died in 2011, I stopped, taking time to grieve. I first heard about Uber when I came back in 2017. It seemed like a godsend. My friends in the car-service industry were quickly switching to the app, making as much money or more than when they were operating on their own. It felt like a win-win. In hindsight, I can see it was a classic bait and switch. After undercutting the black-car and taxi industries to direct consumers (and drivers) to Uber, the company turned on us, cannibalizing the very market it helped create. In my first couple of years driving, Uber announced driver rate cuts that meant the portion of the fare the company kept would be higher than what I took home. After accounting for waiting time and other expenses like gas and wear and tear on my car (all costs I have to cover), I’d be lucky if I got $10 per hour. That’s not even minimum wage in San Francisco.
‘A totally different ballgame’: Inside Uber and Lyft’s fight over gig worker status
Labor activists are targeted in a social media campaign as gig economy companies spend millions to prevent workers from becoming employees.
“If the pandemic has shown anything, it’s that all workers deserve affordable health insurance, paid sick leave, a minimum wage, overtime pay and access to a social safety net,” says Mekela Edwards, a full-time Uber driver and member of the driver group We Drive Progress, which represents 6,000 drivers. “That’s why I am working really hard to help defeat Prop 22.”
Op-ed by Edan Alva: Protect gig workers: Don’t override AB 5 in November
UC Berkeley – Daily Californian
It is a common theme throughout U.S. history that the rich get richer, and the poor — people of the working class who help generate wealth for the rich — get poorer. This was true 200 years ago, and it remains true to this day. Over the past decade, new technologies have created and enabled an increasingly exploitative gig economy, ride-hailing apps being a perfect example. At first, the ride-hailing business model showed great promise. It thoroughly succeeded in disrupting the taxi industry. Transportation became cheaper, and wait times lessened. Service even improved; some drivers would offer passengers snacks or bottles of water. As for drivers, they seemed to benefit too, from what seemed to be the ultimate flexibility: They could work whenever they wanted. But there was a catch. By aggressively misrepresenting itself, the gig industry managed to classify its workers as independent contractors instead of employees. For years, wealthy gig corporations ostensibly ignored their obligations to their workers, obligations that all other employers fulfilled. That is, until 2018, when the California Supreme Court adopted a new, stringent, three-factor test to determine whether a worker should be classified as an independent contractor or an employee.
Opinion: Courts across the world agree: The gig economy is paving the road to serfdom
The tech industry buzzword “gig” has distracted society from important questions about the gig economy that are surprisingly traditional: whether a business has employees or contractors, and how it can avoid payroll taxes and legal liability. Countless Silicon Valley business models have been built under the guise of gigs, Uber and Lyft two of the best known cases, which is ironic considering that for all of their high-tech pretensions, at the core both are taxi and food delivery services. But with state governments like California facing increasing revenue shortfalls and an estimated 57 million gig workers in the United States noting a lack of employer protections and fair wages, the matter has shifted to the courts. Uber and Lyft now find themselves at the center of years-long legal disputes on this question. Court challenges, however, are now extending beyond these two companies. Over the past 40 years, the rise of neoliberalism has enabled employers to tilt the terms of our capitalist economies heavily toward capital and away from labor, via the evisceration of unions, the deconstruction of the welfare state, and the privatization of public services. The growing use of the independent contractor classification represents the latest attempt to exploit and amplify this power imbalance.
Threat of Rideshare Shutdowns Highlight Driver Classification Laws, Battles; CA AG Opines
Edan Alva, driver and worker advocate, says that “people who rely on this job for a living get paid just enough to exist.” When Alva became sick with the flu in January, he was not able to stop working. He continued to drive with severe symptoms in order to make enough money to pay rent— but by the time he had, he was so sick he physically could not work more. He treated his symptoms at home, unable to afford a doctor visit. Said Alva, as a driver, “any unexpected, sudden expenses can completely derail your life.”
San Jose mayor leaps into state’s ride-share fight
San Jose Spotlight
San Jose resident Edan Alva is a Lyft driver and organizer with Gig Workers Rising, a campaign advocating for app workers’ rights. He said ride-share companies are “no different than most criminals” for trying to skirt driver benefits under AB 5 and that portable benefits are not enough. “Everybody should get a minimum wage and the basic labor protections which are prescribed by law and are there for a reason,” Alva said. “You don’t want to have people driving other people who are sick and too poor to go to see a doctor.” Alva got sick in January and didn’t have enough money to pay rent, let alone a steep medical bill. “People should not be in that situation, period. People should have enough space to save for times when they’re in some sort of emergency and they need to get over it and not work for a while,” Alva said. “Maybe even — God forbid — they can take vacation once in a while.”
Uber, Lyft Won’t Suspend Service For Now Following Appeals Court Ruling
City News Service
“This rally, this fight, has always been about defending Prop. 22 — Uber and Lyft’s latest attempt to write themselves out of the law. Even after a judge’s injunction order, the companies continued to sow confusion and fear amongst workers and voters by threatening to shut down the apps in California to scare voters into supporting Prop 22,” said Edan Alva, organizer with Gig Workers Rising, one of the groups that organized the rally. “Now that the stay has been granted, the companies have backtracked on their threats and we, the workers, remains focused on defeating Prop. 22.”
Uber and Lyft won’t suspend California operations after court gives them time to fight law
“When they get caught breaking the law, the app companies throw a tantrum – using extortion tactics to intimidate elected officials, drivers, and consumers into giving them what they want: a blank check to rewrite laws that work for their bottom line and leave drivers out in the cold,” said Mike Roth, spokesman for the No on Prop 22 campaign.
Uber and Lyft granted emergency stay, will not shut down in California tonight
Los Angeles Times
Labor groups including Mobile Workers Alliance and Gig Workers Rising opposed Uber’s and Lyft’s plans to halt California operations, and organized a protest Thursday morning before the shutdown was called off. Uber and Lyft drivers lined up their cars along Will Rogers Street by Los Angeles International Airport with posters deriding Proposition 22. José Noriega, a driver who attended the protest, was worried this morning about how he would make money if the services shut down in the state. “We have to do something about it,” he said. “We want more protections and benefits. Two weeks ago, I had to spend more than $1,000 to fix my car. They don’t care about that.”