Suzanne has been a driver for Uber and Lyft for a year, she voted yes on Proposition 22, like the majority of California voters. It passed.
“I’m so happy because it means that I can still earn money on my own time when I want around my own schedule,” says Suzanne.
App based rideshare and delivery companies shelled out over $220 million making that exact point, that Prop 22 would protect drivers ability to stay independent, plus give them limited benefits and raises. If it didn’t pass they would have been forced to classify their workers as employees not independent contractors. They’re now exempt from state law AB 5, that says employees have the right to standard benefits.
Thomas Tominsky voted yes too, he’s been an Uber driver for five years. He says leading up to the election Uber gave him extra perks, like small bonuses, “What I’ve noticed already starting today is they’ve taken away some of the perks from us because they got what they wanted.”
Tonja Ettesvoll says been an Uber driver for four years and voted no on Prop 22, “My take home used to be 40 hours a week I could make my bills, when I started and then I had to drive more, as they cut the rates, lately I’v e been driving 60 hours a week.”
She finds it hard to believe other workers would be against basic rights for those who need this job in an economy where jobs are scarce, “You have labor rights at another job well that’s great for you. Why wouldn’t you want that for every single worker?”
Ettesvoll says thousands of drivers fought to stop it but the money spent by the companies drowned out their voices, “$200 million gets you a long way and in this case they basically bought their own law.”
She says the money spent on the most expensive proposition in history would have gone a long way protecting employees during the pandemic, “Lyft started their own online store selling PPE (personal protective equipment) to the drivers and profiting from it, I mean these are times that are extraordinary, there are drivers that have died on the job.”
“It truly is a loss not just for labor unions but for, in my opinion, all working people,” says Joe Duffle president of the Inland Empire Central Labor Council says flexibility for employees sounded good in their commercials but the truth is it set a dangerous president, “we’ve created a loophole now, that allows a company to get all the tax credit, shift the burden back on the taxpayers and we voted for it.”
Duffle says he’s not against companies making a profit but it shouldn’t come at the cost of employees rights, “You don’t drop in $220 million, if you don’t believe you’ll have a return on that investment that’s just basic business principles … this is truly a fight between David and Goliath and won on this one.”
In a press release a spokesperson for Prop 22 says this represents the future of work in a technologically driven economy.
But this is not the last you’ve seen of this proposition, the fight continues in the courts.