On Nov. 3, Californians will vote either yay or nay on Proposition 22, or The App-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies Initiative. Prop 22 would create a third category of worker, the contract gig worker, different from the two usual categories of employee and independent contractor.
This proposal followed a California lawsuit against Uber and Lyft alleging that their workers are misclassified as independent contractors. If Prop 22 is not passed, Uber and Lyft will be forced to classify drivers as employees rather than independent contractors. The companies that would benefit from a yes vote — such as Lyft, Uber, Doordash and Postmates — have vastly outspent advocates of a no vote, which include labor unions and organizations such as the Transport Workers Union of America, which has historically represented transit workers across the country.
As of Oct. 22, proponents have spent $199.12 million, $100 million more than opponents of the proposition have, making Prop 22 the most expensive ballot proposition campaign in history, according to the Los Angeles Times.
One driver, Heidi, who asked to be identified only by her first name, expressed support for Prop 22, arguing that the level of independence derived from the proposition would be beneficial.
However, she also acknowledged the costs of the proposition, noting that independence would most likely come at the cost of job security.
Still, she was ultimately supportive."There are people asking for gas, there are people asking for other types of perks. I mean, let’s be real: when you get a job, they don’t cover all of this stuff for you," Heidi said. “This is the rate per hour and if you don’t wanna take it, you don’t take it.”
Richard Meza, a Postmates and DoorDash driver, is against Prop 22, saying that the companies who run these apps don’t do enough to support their drivers.
“They don’t factor in the cost, they don’t factor in vehicle maintenance, or the people we deal with. They just factor in the money on paper,” Meza said.
Because of the difficulties many drivers face while working for these companies, Meza said he is hopeful the proposition will not pass.
“You know, with enough awareness and a lot of pushing, I believe [Prop 22 will be struck down],” Meza said. “There are a lot of app drivers, and I’m just hoping and praying that they’re willing to go out there and step it up and vote.”
Zakhary Mallett, a former governing board member of San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District and Ph.D. candidate at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, argues against Prop 22.
“These companies rely or depend on the core set of workers who they control, they do not grant them the traditional independence that comes with independent contracting,” Mallett said. Those who work over 30 hours a week, “account for 47% of the total labor hours provided on the platform,” but they do not receive benefits that come with traditional employment.
USC professor James Moore, who specializes in economic impact analysis relating to transportation engineering, transportation systems, and other infrastructure systems, supports Proposition 22.
“I’m in favor of not intervening in the marketplace unless we are being very careful,” Moore said. “If the minimum price at which a service can be delivered goes up, that marginal cost goes up, then there will be some service that is no longer economically feasible. The benefits that will otherwise accrue will be lost.”
“This is a nail-biter proposition, but we’ll know more by Tuesday,” said Mallett.