While the presidential race is still being decided across the United States, California has resoundingly passed Prop 22, which allows companies like Uber, Lyft, and Doordash to keep drivers as contractors and overrides the employee mandate of AB5, which was signed into law over the summer. App-based drivers in California will not receive the sick pay, health insurance, or worker’s compensation benefits that other employees in the state enjoy.
Uber and Lyft declared this a win for drivers while their stocks soared early Wednesday, up over 12%. The companies spent over $200 million on their ad campaign in California, more than any other ballot measure in state history.
The passing of Prop 22 sets a dangerous precedent, not just in California but for other states as well. This will undoubtably embolden companies looking to take advantage of workers, denying them the right to basic employee benefits like minimum wages and health benefits while keeping their profit margins high.
AB5 remains a law in California, however, and makes it more difficult for employers to classify workers as contractors. Prop 22 only targets “app-based rideshare and delivery platform” workers.
I’m disappointed in California voters for letting Uber and Lyft buy this win. Any private companies spending this kind of cash on a vote is undoubtably in it for their own gain. These companies’ greed in being allowed to continue to take advantage of California workers without providing them fair compensation and benefits is disgusting, but I’d expect nothing less from these types of companies.
However, I’m especially disappointed in California voters for not seeing the wolf in sheep’s clothing and not wanting to protect the drivers that so many of us rely on everyday. Uber, Lyft, and Doordash tried to claim they couldn’t afford to provide their drivers with sick leave and benefits, but they can afford $200 million dollars on a marketing campaign? C’mon.
This won’t be the last time a ballot measure aimed at gig workers appears before voters in California — I just hope we do better next time.