An election initiative supported by the business giants Uber, Lyft and DoorDash is now set to take place in front of California voters in November. This multi-million dollar shot is set to exclude companies from a law designed to encourage them to offer their drivers more benefits and wage protection.
California passed the labor law last year, the toughest in the country, allowing employers to designate workers as independent contractors. The aim is to encourage companies to put more freelancers and independent workers on the payroll to ensure access to benefits and minimum wages. Praised by the working groups, the comprehensive law sparked lawsuits from independent contractors such as truck drivers and freelance writers who say it would make them unemployed.
Titans of the so-called gig economy like Uber are exerting the fiercest resistance. Together with rival Lyft and delivery service DoorDash, they want California voters to essentially exempt app-based drivers from legal restrictions in November. All three have pledged to spend at least $ 30 million each to promote the measure, which certainly makes it one of the most expensive campaigns in California.
The California Secretary of State announced late Friday that the measure would be eligible for the vote after collecting over 623,000 signatures.
If the companies in California are successful, it could set a national precedent.
Companies want the power to keep their workers independent and as part of the electoral measure are proposing a new law providing full health insurance and benefits to drivers who work at least 25 hours a week if they are injured in the workplace. Drivers could work in any app and earn a base of 120% of the minimum wage plus more based on the kilometers driven.
California increased the stakes during the bout when it sued Uber and Lyft in early May for allegedly mistaking its drivers as independent contractors under the law. The coalition, which leads the Protect App-Based Drivers & Services electoral initiative, claims it represents 60,000 drivers and said the lawsuit would result in job losses during the pandemic-sparked recession.
Labor organizations have vowed to fight the initiative since it began collecting signatures this year. Campaigns, however, will be uncertain due to the coronavirus outbreak that is causing traditional advertising efforts to fail. Activists said in late February they had already collected over a million signatures to qualify the initiative, far more than is required.
"It's a takeover by Uber and Lyft, essentially writing a bill that exempts them from basic worker protections," said Steve Smith, a California Labor Federation spokesman who plans to stop knocking with more phone calls and texts Voters to replace opposition. "It's going to be a bit of a battle royale."
Stacey Wells, a campaign spokeswoman, said the proposal was a "win-win for drivers".
She said 80% of California's roughly one million drivers work apps less than 20 hours a week. The new benefits will be a win for drivers "compared to a rigid employment model that prevents them from working on multiple apps on a set schedule."
Critics also accuse the law of unfairly attacking some industries. Freelance journalists and photographers groups unsuccessfully argued earlier this year that the law cannot exempt some writers from its rules while keeping freelance news journalists to a stricter standard. You are appealing the dismissal of the case by a federal judge.