Great: pop the champagne for Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who won his exorbitantly expensive battle to avoid paying gig workers fairly at all costs.
The New York Times reports that California voters have passed Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart's ballot measure, Proposition 22, by a healthy margin. Roughly 58.3% of Californians voted yes on Prop 22, while 41.7% voted no according to the Los Angeles Times , with 69.17% of precincts reporting at this hour. This means that rideshare companies and delivery apps officially don't have to classify an estimated 500,000 California workers as employees, or grant them the benefits and workplace protections to which they should be entitled.
"Billionaire corporations just hijacked the ballot measure system in California by spending millions to mislead voters. The victory of Prop 22, the most expensive ballot measure in U.S. history, is a loss for our democracy that could open the door to other attempts by corporations to write their own laws," Gig Workers Rising, a Union-backed rideshare driver group, wrote in a statement early this morning.
We've reached out to Uber, Lyft, and Instacart and will update when their statements become available.
Thanks to the passage of Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart's ballot measure Prop 22, rideshare companies and delivery apps officially don't have to classify an estimated 500,000 California workers as employees, or grant them the benefits and workplace protections to which they should be entitled. Together, through the historically well-funded $206 million Yes on Prop 22 campaign, the companies spent about as much money as Uber and Lyft should have paid the state of California in unemployment insurance over two years . Now they don't have to for the foreseeable future.
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Prop 22 now waves away benefits workers should have been getting under the California state law Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5), which was passed last September. AB 5 represented a triumph for worker advocates, codifying into law a stricter test to determine who is an "independent contractor"—a status gig companies have long used to exempt themselves from responsibility for their workers' well-being. (While AB 5 applies to many independent contractors, the measure was politicized as a battle to crack down on the gig industry.)
Courts had ruled and upheld that under AB 5 many current gig workers in California were already full employees, entitling them to a variety of workplace protections including: minimum wage and overtime pay; unemployment insurance; paid leave to handle sickness, childcare, or the death of an immediate family member; workers' compensation for on-the-job injuries; and the ability to join a union.
Workers will now have none of that. Instead, Prop 22 disingenuously claims to offer 120% minimum wage, a sliding scale of health insurance coverage, and reimbursement for expenses. But these minimum provisions hinge on "engaged time," the portion of the workday in which drivers are picking up and dropping off passengers. Researchers have estimated that this covers less than two-thirds of rideshare drivers' working hours. As a result, one study from the UCLA Labor Center finds that California Uber and Lyft drivers, at least, will now only be guaranteed a $5.64 per hour minimum wage.
Running up to the election, the companies launched a take-no-prisoners assault of wall-to-wall messaging run by at least 19 consulting firms , including Republican operatives and opposition researchers from the tobacco and oil industries. The campaign itself demonstrated the overwhelming influence of the companies' soft power, pushing their shitty agenda not only to prospective voters, but often to captive audiences of their own gig workers.
It's a big setback. A federal rule could supercede it—which is more likely to happen if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris win the election — but rolling Prop 22 back in California will be nearly impossible. Doing so requires an 87.5% majority vote in both houses of the California state legislature and the governor's approval to amend it.
Fuck this law, and fuck these companies.
Update 11/4/20, 12:38p.m. EDT: Instacart provided the following statement to Gizmodo, and sent a link to the company's blog post on the passage of Prop 22
"We're pleased with the passage of Proposition 22 and the positive impact it will have on tens of thousands of shoppers in California. Proposition 22 was created to unlock a better, more progressive solution for all Californians that reflects the preferences of app-based drivers. By passing this measure, Californians have ushered in historic new offerings for on-demand workers while maintaining their independence and flexibility. Shoppers will now receive guaranteed earnings, as well as additional protections and benefits. We believe the future of work looks different and requires new thinking, and we look forward to working with policymakers nationwide to chart a new course for a modern workforce. Over the coming weeks, we'll be sharing more information directly with our California shoppers about the new offerings they can expect as a result of Proposition 22 passing."
Uber has not yet provided a statement to media, but sent Gizmodo the email which it sent to drivers in California (presumably with Jasmine's permission):
- Uber, Lyft win last-minute reprieve: Ride-hailing to continue in California
- After California Judge Rules Uber, Lyft Drivers Are Employees, What Happens Next?
- Factbox: What's at stake in California's November gig worker ballot measure
- San Francisco judge won’t stay order for Uber, Lyft drivers to be employees
- Judge rejects Uber, Lyft bids to delay California driver injunction
- Appeals court gives reprieve to Uber, Lyft in California
- San Francisco voters will find 13 ballot measures to decide on the November ballot
- Judge Forbids Lyft and Uber to Skirt Law Classifying Drivers as Employees
- Uber may be in the driver's seat in labor dispute
- Uber threatens to shut down services in California after ruling
- Uber and Lyft say they will have to SHUT DOWN for several months in California if a court upholds ruling requiring them to classify their drivers as full-time employees
- Uber and Lyft ride-hailing shutdown in California: What you need to know
- Uber may shut down in California if forced to classify drivers as employees, CEO says
- What Happens If Uber and Lyft Flee California? Look at Austin
- Uber and Lyft could shut down in California this week. It may not help their cause
- Uber bans right-wing activist for complaining about Muslim drivers after NYC attack
- California judge DENIES Uber and Lyft's requests for more time to appeal injunction forcing them to reclassify drivers as employees after DoorDash became the latest gig economy company to face injunction
- An Uber and Lyft shutdown in California looks inevitable — unless voters bail them out
- Lyft joins Uber in threatening to pull out of California over driver status
- Uber and Lyft on track to leave California after failing to delay driver status order
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