California Voters Reject Bid to Classify Uber, Lyft Drivers as Company Employees

(Photo by Thought Catalog via Unsplash)

California voters this week approved Proposition 22, which exempts ride-hailing and delivery app drivers from being classified as employees eligible for benefits and job protections.

A win for firms like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash, the ballot measure promises new worker benefits, including minimum hourly earnings. It does not, however, provide independent contractors the safeguards that come with employment.

Gig companies funneled more than $200 million into their campaign, making Prop 22 the most expensive ballot measure in California history, the Associated Press reports. The resolution had more than 58 percent of the nearly 11 million votes counted so far.

“We’re disappointed in tonight’s outcome, especially because this campaign’s success is based on lies and fear-mongering,” non-profit group Gig Workers Collective wrote in a blog post. “Companies shouldn’t be able to buy elections. But we’re still dedicated to our cause and ready to continue our fight.

“Gig work is real work, and gig workers deserve fair and transparent pay, along with proper labor protections,” the post continued. “These companies are clearly afraid, otherwise they never would have needed to spend that $200 million—and it’s workers they are afraid of. It’s only a matter of time until the law catches up with them.”

Earlier this year, when a California judge ordered Uber and Lyft to reclassify contract drivers as employees and offer full benefits, the companies threatened to suspend ride-sharing in the state, claiming the law would force them to overhaul their entire business model.

Those threats, however, are moot, now that Prop 22 has passed. In a celebratory email to Uber drivers (shared by Financial TimesFinancial Times correspondent Dave Lee), CEO Dara Khosrowshahi thanked workers for their service and vowed to deliver on promises.

“We’re looking forward to bringing you these new benefits—like healthcare contributions and occupational accident insurance—as soon as possible,” he wrote. “We’ll be back in touch in the next few weeks with more details about what to expect, and how to enroll in and make the most of these new benefits.” 

Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash did not immediately respond to PCMag’s request for comment.

November 4, 2020
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