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Industry Insights

Castillo: A Scary Proposition

  • State: California

One of the scariest things this Halloween season isn’t a ghost, ghoul or goblin; it’s the prospect that Proposition 22 may become law.

Michael Castillo

Michael Castillo

In just over one week, the fate of gig workers will be decided by California voters, many of whom have already cast their ballots.

According to a poll conducted by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies in late September, 39% of likely voters surveyed intended to side with Uber, Lyft and other gig companies by voting yes, while 36% of likely voters indicated they’d support labor rights and vote no.

That’s a slim margin, should those numbers continue to stick, especially considering the $188 million gig companies have sunk into the campaign to pass the measure. But with 25% of the survey respondents still undecided, it could be anyone’s game.

Although an appellate court ruled unanimously last Thursday that these companies must classify their drivers as employees — upholding an August injunction requiring gig employers to comply with Assembly Bill 5 — the passage of Prop. 22 would eviscerate this mandate.

Should Prop. 22 pass, Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and the like will continue to be able to misclassify their drivers as independent contractors, robbing them of basic employee protections, including minimum wage, paid sick leave, family leave and workers’ compensation.

One of the scariest aspects of the initiative is the fact it would require a 7/8 majority vote in the California Legislature to be changed or overturned, a virtual impossibility.

Prop. 22 also bars local communities from creating their own employment rules that would clash with policies set forth in the initiative.

While creating a safety net for gig drivers and requiring gig employers to abide by the law should be reason enough to vote no, we hope voters pay attention to the aforementioned “safeguards” put in place by the writers that would spell trouble for employment rights for years to come.

For the next week, those of us in favor of securing labor protections for drivers will need to spread the word to voters still on the fence in hopes that we can put an end to this scary proposition.

Michael Castillo is communications director for the California Applicants' Attorneys Association. This opinion is republished, with permission, from the CAAA website.

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