From Where We Are

Californians pass Proposition 22

Propositions 22 considers app-based drivers as independent contractors, not employees.

Californians passed Prop 22 by more than 58-percent as of right now — a major win for app-based driver companies like Uber and Postmates.

Proposition 22 is going to exempt gig companies from having to classify their workers as employees.

That’s Sam Harnett, a labor and tech reporter at NPR’s KQED. He explains why some gig workers were against the measure.

That means the drivers for Lyft and Uber and the shoppers, for instance, car and the food deliveries for DoorDash don’t get unemployment insurance. They can’t get overtime pay. They aren’t guaranteed minimum wage. It’ll be very hard for or actually impossible for any city or county to pass a law to give more protections or benefits to gig workers.

Thomas Lenz, a lecturer at USC Gould School of Law, says labor unions opposed the measure, but says he understands why others workers would be for it.

There are a lot of people who work for these app companies who feel that they want flexibility, that they don’t want to be employees who are held to a regular schedule. They want flexibility to turn on and turn off the workday, just like they turn on and turn off the app.

Now Prop 22 does mandate companies offer drivers some benefits. Things like stipends to buy health insurance or accident insurance and there’s some guaranteed level of pay. But Lenz says that’s still a far cry from the standard benefits most employers in California must offer their permanent workers.

I think that the independent contractor model, though, is meant to be an exception, I think a limited exception because employment and the employer/employee relationship is presumed by law. So I think we have a long way to go before the rules clarify and stabilize. So it’s a very interesting time and one where there’s a lot of room for future argument.