Updated: Sep 19, 2020
Paul Luna is a California resident, a United States Navy veteran, and Diamond Uber driver with 6,606 rides
Uber Driver With 6,606 Rides and Four Years of Service Talks About Uber's Clear Message to Their Drivers
Prop 22: the Great White Lie
Proposition 22 is an amendment to AB 5 that is bought, and paid for by UBER, Doordash, and big investment firms. They hired a lobbying firm to represent them and write it. While most rideshare drivers do not support Proposition 22, the few that support prop 22 do so because they believe it will preserve their flexibility. What is Assembly Bill 5 and Prop 22? While it is an amendment to the labor code authored in 12/2018, most freelancers recognize AB 5 as the legislation that all but destroyed the gig economy. It was amended on 09/06/19 and chaptered in 09-18-19. If it were not for the 09/06/19 amendment, the gig economy would be hurting even more if not completely wiped out. Assembly Bill 5, or AB-5, states that workers have to satisfy all three following conditions to be considered independent contractors and, therefore, exempt from the requirements of AB-5:
“ (a) (1) For purposes of the provisions of this code and the Unemployment Insurance Code, and the wage orders of the Industrial Welfare Commission, a person providing labor or services for remuneration shall be considered an employee rather than an independent contractor unless the hiring entity demonstrates that all of the following conditions are satisfied:
(A) The person is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact.
(B) The person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.
(C) The person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.”
While rideshare drivers satisfy two out of the three requirements, the law states they have to meet all three. In the case of AB-5, two out three is bad. Freelance journalists, photographers, web developers, and a multitude of genuine freelancers can satisfy all three and be exempt from the requirements of AB-5. Rideshare drivers cannot meet the first requirement, and that is to be "free from control or direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact"- Assembly Bill 5. They cannot satisfy this requirement because they are beholden to the rideshare company. Getting deactivated on a rideshare app is as simple as not having a high enough rating. Out of the 500 drivers that I spoke to, 500 of them say that there is no investigation, only a deactivation if there is a customer complaint about a driver.
When AB-5 was chaptered on 9/18/19, it was highly controversial. Rideshare companies were told to get in compliance. Rideshare titans like Uber and Lyft stood to lose millions of dollars with the passing of AB-5. They promptly filed an appeal. Rideshare companies engaged in scare tactics and fearmongering. They told drivers that if AB-5 is enforced, drivers would only get to drive during certain times, they would not have flexibility, and pay would go down. In August 2020, they threatened to leave California if they were forced to reclassify their drivers. Suppose companies acted on their threat, hundreds of thousands of California rideshare drivers would be out of work. For many, rideshare is their only source of income. They did not tell them that with AB-5, they would get minimum wage, benefits, a higher per-mile rate, and protection from deactivation on the back of unfounded customer complaints.
Executives from UBER, Doordash, and a major investment company paid a lobbying firm to author Prop 22. Neilsen Merksamer LLP, a premier lobbying firm whose client list boasts government heavy hitters like the California Association of Counties, represent big rideshare. They represent many fortune-500 companies. On December 09, 2019, the office of the Attorney General of California, received the amendment request, and just like that, Prop 22 landed on the ballot in November. From there, the big "vote yes to Prop 22" campaign began. They doubled down on claims that Prop 22 will protect drivers' independence and that rideshare companies should be exempt from AB-5. I found two rideshare drivers in support of Prop 22 and scores of drivers against it. I downloaded and printed Prop 22, and when I got through the legal jargon, I found that Prop 22 was a fancy way of rideshare to skirt labor laws. They tell California voters that they should stand with rideshare drivers and vote for Prop 22. They fail to mention that they have more to gain than rideshare drivers do if Prop 22 passes. Drivers have everything to lose. If Prop 22 passes, it will cost drivers money, and they have no protection from unfair deactivation.
Further research proved that California voters have no idea that big rideshare companies hired a fortune 500 lobbying firm to author Prop 22 and push their agenda. Out of the 100 California voters that I asked, who were not rideshare drivers, 100 of them had no idea that rideshare hired a lobbying firm to write Prop 22. They also had no idea that it would cost drivers more; 53 out of the 100 voters that I asked thought that by supporting Prop 22, they were supporting rideshare drivers' rights against the big rideshare companies. They did not realize that they were supporting rideshare; just not the drivers. They are counting on American voters to accept what they are being told at face value.
I caught up with one of the rideshare drivers. His experience driving with Uber, Lyft, and UberEats for four years told a very different story than the "vote yes" narrative that rideshare companies are paying millions of dollars to peddle to voters. See video above.
Rideshare companies have one consistent message that they have been giving to drivers from the beginning; you are on your own. Drivers pay for all the overhead incur all the risk, but they are still beholden to the company. It seems like big rideshare wants the control of being an employer but not be responsible for providing a safe working environment, health insurance, clean bathrooms at LAX, and unemployment insurance during worldwide pandemics. Their threat to pull out of California proves that they will protect their bottom line by any means necessary, drivers be damned. They will spend millions of dollars to lie to the American people, cheat their drivers by deactivating them without reasonable investigation, and hold hundreds of thousands of American jobs hostage to get their desired outcome. Their hubs are spread so far apart, and their hub locator has not been updated since 2018. Drivers, who already have to drive 4 hours or more, go to these locations listed as open only to find out they are closed. For California drivers who do get deactivated, or need to get their car inspected, or need a new decal, it is a costly hassle for which they are not reimbursed. Big rideshare spent millions of dollars to send the California voters a message. Well, we hear you loud and clear. You can come get our response in November at the polls.