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What’s at stake in California’s November gig worker ballot measure | News

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By Tina Bellon

(Reuters) – After a California appeals court on Thursday halted a law requiring the reclassification of ride-hail drivers of Uber Technologies Inc and Lyft Inc as employees, the decision over gig worker benefits and pay will likely be left to voters.

Here is a look at the main points of Proposition 22, the ballot measure California voters will decide on Nov. 3:

– HOW DO GIG WORKERS DIFFER FROM TRADITIONAL EMPLOYEES?

Most government regulations and safety net benefits including minimum wage, health insurance, sick pay, workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance are attached to an employment relationship.

Gig economy companies Uber, Lyft, GrubHub Inc , DoorDash Inc and Postmates save money by not paying costly benefits and offloading some of the traditional employer-side responsibilities to their workers.

Gig workers in turn enjoy the flexibility to work whenever they want. The companies say the majority of workers use their services to supplement income from other full or part-time jobs that offer benefits.

– WHO SPONSORED THE BALLOT MEASURE?

Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart and Postmates began working on a ballot measure in August 2019, when California lawmakers were readying a bill that makes it harder for companies to classify workers as independent contractors, instead of employees.

The law, Assembly Bill 5 (“AB5”), was implemented in January with broad support from organized labor and requires companies to classify workers as employees if they controlled how workers do their jobs, or the work is part of their normal business.

Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart and Postmates have argued the law does not apply to them. They are spending more than $110 million to support Proposition 22.

– WHAT DOES PROPOSITION 22 ENTAIL?

The ballot measure would enshrine drivers’ current contractor status, albeit with some added benefits.

Under the proposal, gig workers would receive guaranteed pay equal to 120% of minimum wage; 30 cents per mile compensation for expenses; health care subsidies on a sliding scale to drivers who work at least 15 hours a week and are enrolled in a health plan; occupational accident and injury insurance.

The ballot also includes anti-discrimination and sexual harassment protections for drivers and mandates the companies to conduct criminal background checks of app-based drivers.

– WHY DO THE COMPANIES SUPPORT THE MEASURE?

The companies say roughly 80% of all drivers work less than 20 hours per week. Being forced to reclassify workers as employees would threaten the companies’ business models and force them to reduce driver numbers by up to 90%.

An employee-based model would likely also increase the cost of these services for consumers and potentially result in longer wait times, the companies say.

– WHAT DO OPPONENTS SAY?

Opposition to Proposition 22 mainly comes from organized labor and many California lawmakers who say the companies’ proposal would create a new underclass of workers.

Drivers would only receive minimum pay during the time they actually have a passenger in the car, but studies and city data have shown drivers spend roughly a third of their time waiting for a new trip request or driving to a new passenger.

Labor groups also say the companies underestimate the cost of owning and operating a ride-hail vehicle, rendering the 30 cents per mile compensation insufficient.

Critics also say the health care stipend and occupational accident insurance fall short of regular sick leave and workers’ compensation. Workers would also not be entitled to unemployment insurance under the companies’ plan – one of the costly benefits that has come into focus during the coronavirus pandemic.

(Compiled by Tina Bellon in New York; editing by Peter Henderson and Grant McCool)



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Judge: Nevada jobless office in contempt in gig workers case | Business News

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RENO, Nev. (AP) — A state court judge held the Nevada unemployment office in contempt and gave it until the end of the month to comply with his July court order to resume paying pandemic relief benefits to almost 9,500 out-of-work gig workers and independent contractors.

“These people need to be paid,” Washoe County District Court Judge Barry Breslow declared Thursday as he imposed a $1,000 fine on the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported .

The judge scheduled a Dec. 31 compliance hearing and warned of additional action if the state doesn’t release Pandemic Unemployment Assistance funds by Christmas.

Bradford McEwen, an independent contractor who had the pandemic payments frozen after 21 weeks, told the Review-Journal he was disappointed with the ruling. He said claimants deserve compensation for hours of fruitless calls to Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation hotlines.

Self-employed photographer Dave Cherkis is waiting to receive pandemic benefits that he filed for in May. He derided the nominal fine as “a Band-Aid on a compound fracture.”

Breslow’s order came in a lawsuit that attorney Mark Thierman filed in May on behalf of independent contractors and self-employed workers seeking immediate payment of pending pandemic claims.

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Judge: Nevada jobless office in contempt in gig workers case

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RENO, Nev. (AP) — A state court judge held the Nevada unemployment office in contempt and gave it until the end of the month to comply with his July court order to resume paying pandemic relief benefits to almost 9,500 out-of-work gig workers and independent contractors.

“These people need to be paid,” Washoe County District Court Judge Barry Breslow declared Thursday as he imposed a $1,000 fine on the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported .

The judge scheduled a Dec. 31 compliance hearing and warned of additional action if the state doesn’t release Pandemic Unemployment Assistance funds by Christmas.

Bradford McEwen, an independent contractor who had the pandemic payments frozen after 21 weeks, told the Review-Journal he was disappointed with the ruling. He said claimants deserve compensation for hours of fruitless calls to Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation hotlines.



Self-employed photographer Dave Cherkis is waiting to receive pandemic benefits that he filed for in May. He derided the nominal fine as “a Band-Aid on a compound fracture.”


Breslow’s order came in a lawsuit that attorney Mark Thierman filed in May on behalf of independent contractors and self-employed workers seeking immediate payment of pending pandemic claims.

At the time, Nevada was the last state in the nation to begin taking applications for the pandemic payments.

State officials contended the jobless benefits office was battling rampant fraud and needed to determine the legitimacy of each claim before paying it out.


Breslow commissioned a 310-page report from a special hearing master that identified bottlenecks and breaks in processing payments for so-called gig workers.

The judge determined the swamped state unemployment office should not have decided that pandemic applicants were ineligible unless they completely ceased working.

His July 22 order said the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation could not stop paying pandemic claims, with exceptions for failing to meet certain eligibility benchmarks and suspected fraud, unless a worker received a hearing or was provided some means to protest.

As of Nov. 21, nearly 650,000 claims were filed and 74,000 Nevadans continued to receive pandemic payments since the program rolled out in May, the Review-Journal reported.

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Elgin singer one of first to get back on stage for live gig

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AN ELGIN singer will be one of the first local acts to get back to gigging this weekend at an Inverness venue.

Live music is returning to a second city venue this weekend as The Botanic House gets ready to welcome back performers and music fans.

Singer Colleen Murphy (36), from Elgin’s Barlink Road, will kick off the first night line-up on Saturday, December 6, at 5pm.

Colleen said: “It’s been a long and hard road for all us entertainers.

“This is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel.

“I want to wish everyone to ‘break a leg’ over the next few weeks and welcome all from tier 1 to join us. Let the music play.”

The Castle Street venue, which opened just over a year ago, has had strict Covid-19 procedures in place since its post-lockdown return in September.

Further precautions have now been taken, including social distancing at all times within the venue, to allow a return to live music.

Elgin-based singer Colleen Murphy.
Elgin-based singer Colleen Murphy.

The return of live gigs will be music to the ears for local acts – many of whom have found themselves out of work for nine months.

The Botanic House general manager Tom Wilding said: “We are really excited to get live music back into The Botanic, as a live music and entertainment venue.

“The past months have been challenging with the constantly changing restrictions.

“In true Highland spirit though, we have risen to the challenge, reinventing ourselves to give our loyal customers a great venue with new and exciting food and drink options to enjoy.”

Gigs are planned until the end of the year.

Last month fellow Inverness venue The Ironworks held what was believed to be the first live indoor show in Scotland since lockdown in March when folk-rock band Torridon performed to a socially distanced audience of 100 people.

Back in April, Colleen, a full-time social work student at the Robert Gordon University, raised nearly £500 for Moray Women’s Aid by staging an online gig from her living-room.


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