Analysis – Prop 22, changes to app based drivers

By Raymond Nava

Proposition 22 would have very big effects on California residents.
Prop 22 asks whether application-based-drivers should be considered as independent contractors rather than agents or employees. If voters vote yes, Prop 22 would overturn Assembly Bill 5 for app based drivers, which was passed in 2019. Assembly Bill 5 laid out a three-point test that determined whether a worker would be classified as an independent contractor.
The first point is whether the worker is free from their employer’s control, as well as the direction of their work. The second point is whether the work is being done outside of the company’s regular course of business.
The third point is whether the worker is engaging in a business, established trade or occupation of the same nature as the work they are doing. These guidelines have drawn criticism from drivers oriented companies.
On Aug 10, ride-share companies Uber and Lyft were ruled to have violated AB5 by the Superior Court of San Francisco, due to the misclassification of their workers. Both companies had threatened to suspend their operations in California should the ruling stay in effect. Ten days later, the ruling was stayed by the California First District Court of Appeal.
The website Ballotpedia, a website that tracks American elections, lists some of the current backers and opposers to Prop 22. Five current corporation backers of Prop 22 are Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates and Instacart.
These are driver-based businesses that would be affected if Prop 22 didn’t pass. National Public Radio reported that Uber and Lyft said that AB5 didn’t apply to them because they consider their businesses as “tech platforms,” not transportation businesses.
KPFA Radio elections reporter Ariel Boone reported that the Yes on 22 campaign, which is being funded by all five companies, also gave a $2 million donation to the California Republican Party.
Some of the organizations that have come out in support of Prop 22 are ones that are usually seen as backing the Republican party, such as the National Taxpayers Union.
It should be noted Prop 22 would make small increases to the state income tax paid by ride-share and delivery company drivers as well as investors.
In an opinion piece for the New York Times, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said that if Prop 22 was defeated, Uber wouldn’t be widely available to customers and its drivers would lose the flexibility they have if they became employees.
He argued that they would need to increase prices for rides, which would reduce the number of people taking them, which in turn would reduce the number of jobs for drivers. He also argued that even if they considered their drivers employees, only a small fraction would work full time and that they would operate in fewer cities.
In a statement to The Sacramento Bee, State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, the author of AB5, argued that the corporations who are supporting Prop 22 wouldn’t have to provide their workers with the benefits all other workers in California receive.
These benefits include earning minimum wage for all the hours they work, social security and the right to organize, to just name a few. Prop 22 would make other chances such as requiring companies to adopt sexual harassment and anti-discrimination policies as well as making it a crime to impersonate a ride share driver.
If Prop 22 doesn’t pass, and Uber and Lyft do follow through on their threat to leave the state, it would be a tremendous toll on students.
While classes at East Los Angeles College are being held online through the spring semester of 2021, when classes do return to in-person, many students who don’t drive and take these ride-shares would be hurt greatly as they would lose their main form of transportation.
Voters will decide the outcome of Prop 22 in the coming weeks as mail in ballots are sent out.

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