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Will voters side with the continued exploitation of gig workers?

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For the past half century, employers have increasingly classified their workers as independent contractors. It is said that approximately 8 percent of American workers use independent work as their primary activity, a 22 percent increase since 2001.

More pronounced in trucking, product delivery work like Federal Express, it first emerged in transportation where it is more difficult to monitor worker behavior. But there are other obvious incentives: no social security; no minimum wage or overtime; no unemployment compensation; no sick pay; family leave or workers’ compensation; no reimbursement for travel expenses; registration; insurance; licensing and automobile depreciation; and no protection under anti-discrimination law. A growing precariat, disproportionately Black, brown and immigrants, competing with one another was particularly easy for the new on-demand economy to manipulate.

The gig economy, which initially meant jazz musicians moving from club to club, caught on with the Silicon Valley investing class, which claimed that they were simply connecting workers, as Uber, Lyft and Doordash did, with an app to customers. The companies saved around 30 cents on the dollar, adopting a scheme that immediately became imperiled by a 2018 California Supreme Court ruling, and later codified by the legislature last year. This created a presumption that drivers were employees because of the Supreme Court’s initial adoption of the ABC standard that characterized drivers and others as employees if they met one of the following criteria: one, they were under the employer’s control; two, they performed work which was part of the company’s central business; and three, were not independent tradespeople. 

The court and legislature took this step because they saw misclassification of workers as a substantial contributor to growing inequality, as well as a raid on the public treasury. One study estimated that Uber and Lyft would have paid $413 million into California’s unemployment insurance fund between 2014 and 2019 if their drivers had been employees. 

In the wake of these developments, companies like Uber and Lyft immediately howled in protest over the law, refused to obey it altogether, litigated extensively, arguing in bizarre fashion that they were not in the transportation business. Defiance produced a delay until the California attorney general, authorized to enforce the law by the new statute, brought suit in May and produced a strong trial court decision concluding that the companies must meet their “day of reckoning.”

The transportation network companies (TNCs), already successful in characterizing their drivers as independent contractors before the anti-worker Trump NLRB and Department of Labor, doubled down on an already-planned ballot proposition of the kind with which California is continually besieged, producing the most expensive ballot campaign (nearly $200 million and counting) in the state’s history and outgunning all opponents by 50:1 — though as of publishing, the electoral result is unclear. But clearly the proposition is one of the best bets for Uber and Lyft to win, given the likelihood of success in the California courts for the attorney general.

California’s Proposition 22 pitch is essentially threefold: one, the flexibility accorded drivers which makes it possible for them to devise their own schedule will be lost, as will many of their jobs, and consumer prices would increase; two, Proposition 22 would provide the drivers with some employee-like benefits; three, if the companies cannot have it their way, they will leave California for greener pastures. Although there are new suitors like Alto and others waiting in the wings, one cannot be entirely sure of the future industry prospects.

But the new legal framework doesn’t abolish flexibility — indeed, because demand inevitably fluctuates on any given day, the companies will always have to retain part-time as well as full-time drivers. Independent studies estimate that the new model will produce a 5 to 10 percent increase in prices at most, though Uber and Lyft maintain that the price increase could be tenfold! 

The benefits for the drivers are markedly inferior to those of employees — only about 50 percent of reimbursements allowed by the IRS and medical benefits, which are about 70 to 80 percent of California’s version of Obamacare for the most senior workers — nothing else will be provided. 

Finally, beyond Proposition 22, the companies have one other arrow in their quiver — the federal courts. Already successful before the court of appeals in Seattle, invalidating that city’s labor legislation for passenger ride-hauling drivers, there is always the United States Supreme Court. That tribunal, it is to be recalled, fashioned out of whole cloth the conclusion that union security or “fair-share” agreements are unconstitutional. This week Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettNotre Dame calendar lists talks by Amy Coney Barrett not disclosed in Senate paperwork: report Cheers erupt as Trump puts on MAGA hat, takes off tie at Iowa rally Key moments from Barrett’s marathon question-and-answer session MORE defended her dissenting opinion in support of the proposition that the right to bear arms is more fundamental than the right to vote. To paraphrase Frank Sinatra, “the world is upside down today” and Uber and Lyft are banking on the idea that “anything goes.”

Meanwhile, on Nov. 3, the voters will have a fairly clear-cut choice — continued exploitation of workers without benefits and below the minimum wage (Yes), or some measure of dignity for those who have been left behind in the age of inequality. 

William B. Gould IV, Emeritus professor at Stanford Law School and former chairman of the National Relations Board. He is the author of, “Primer on American Law, (Sixth edition)”  and “Japan’s Reshaping of American Labor Law (1984).”



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Gig companies break $200M barrier in California ballot fight

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A Lyft ride-share car waits at a stoplight in Sacramento, Calif.

A Lyft ride-share car waits at a stoplight in Sacramento, Calif. | Rich Pedroncelli, File/AP

OAKLAND — California officially has its first $200 million ballot campaign, courtesy of the homegrown tech industry.

Proposition 22 always figured to be an enormously expensive fight. Five gig economy firms invested $110 million just at the outset of their effort to exempt themselves from a new state law that could force them to treat app-summoned workers as employees rather than contractors.

The campaign has lived up to those expectations. A late October $3.75 million outlay from DoorDash pushed proponents’ fundraising total to roughly $203 million. Virtually all of that has come from five companies trying to preserve their contractor-reliant business models: Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Instacart and DoorDash.

The implications: The Prop 22 campaign has always been a financial mismatch. While organized labor wields significant sway in California politics, the union-driven opposition campaign has pulled in about $20 million. That used to be a decent sum in California ballot campaigns, but is merely one-tenth of what their opponents have committed.

Despite those lopsided numbers, which have helped the yes side saturate California’s airwaves, polling suggests Prop 22 could fail. A Berkeley IGS poll this month found the measure short of a majority, claiming support from 46 percent of likely voters.

The bigger context: Before this, the fundraising record for a single side of an initiative campaign was the roughly $111 million kidney dialysis companies spent in 2018 to beat back Proposition 8. The tech industry was poised to shatter that from the start.

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Global Gig Economy Platforms Market 2020 Growth Potential, Production, Revenue And COVID-19 Impact Analysis 2025 – re:Jerusalem

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The "Gig" Is Up - What Is The Gig Economy? What Does It Mean To You?Fabrik  Brands

The latest report titled Global Gig Economy Platforms Market 2020 by Company, Type and Application, Forecast to 2025 presents a huge platform for different firms, manufacturers, and organizations that compete with each other for offering reliable products and satisfactory services to their clients. The report contains inclusive details pertaining to this business space and provides evaluate data of the global Gig Economy Platforms market and its rivals on a global basis. The report highlights the market dynamics such as the numerous driving forces responsible for impacting the outlook of this industry as well as the risks that this sphere is defined by, and finally the innumerable growth opportunities prevalent in the marketplace.

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NOTE: Our report highlights the major issues and hazards that companies might come across due to the unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19.

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In This Report, We Analyze the Market Industry with Respect To two aspects.

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The study provides explains all circumstances within the major players in the market. The report also includes the company’s active in product expansions and innovating new advanced technology intending to develop huge opportunities for the global Gig Economy Platforms market. Drivers and opportunities are elaborated. Along with the recent trends, the report focuses on the upcoming innovations.

Key players of the market mentioned in the report are: TaskRabbit, Fiverr, HopSkipDrive, BellHops, Upwork, Guru.com, Favor Delivery, Rover, Freelancer, DoorDash, Turo, Twago Enterprise, Handy

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Based on the application, the global market is categorized as follows: Freelancer, Independent Contractor, Project Worker, Part-Time, Other

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This report studies the top producers and consumers, focuses on product capacity, production, value, consumption, market share, and growth opportunity in these key regions, covering: North America (United States, Canada and Mexico), Europe (Germany, France, UK, Russia and Italy), Asia-Pacific (China, Japan, Korea, India and Southeast Asia), South America (Brazil, Argentina, etc.), Middle East & Africa (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa)

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California court rules Uber can continue pushing pro-gig worker messages

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A California state superior court has ruled that Uber can continue pushing pro-gig worker messages to its drivers through the rideshare app.

A group of drivers filed a lawsuit Thursday against the company alleging unlawful coercion from Uber because it used in-app messages to get its workers to support Proposition 22, which would allow Uber, Lyft and other ride-share companies to classify drivers as independent contractors rather than employees,

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
UBER UBER TECHNOLOGIES INC. 34.06 +0.41 +1.22%
LYFT LYFT INC. 22.96 +0.73 +3.28%

The drivers then filed a temporary restraining order against Uber, which Judge Richard B. Ulmer Jr. denied, citing a “belated” effort on the drivers’ part since the lawsuit alleges that the messages have been ongoing since August, and Californians will be able to vote in favor of or against Prop. 22 on their 2020 general election ballots.

Carla Shrive, right, who drives for various gig into companies, joined other drivers to support a proposed ballot initiative challenging a recently signed law that makes it harder for companies to label workers as independent contractors, in Sacramen

“According to plaintiffs, Uber’s driver app campaign began in August. Why plaintiffs waited months to sue and seek injunctive relief is not explained, and such delay casts doubt on their case,” Ulmer wrote.

ALL U.S. EMPLOYEES WILL RECEIVE A FREE ONE-WAY LYFT RIDE UP TO $75 TO THE POLLS TO VOTE

David Lowe, a partner at Rudy, Exelrod, Zieff & Lowe and an attorney for the drivers, said in a statement to FOX Business that Ulmer’s decision puts Uber’s First Amendment rights above the First Amendment rights of drivers.

“With a nod to its illegal conduct, Uber still refuses to assure its drivers it will not retaliate based on how they vote, citing that this would infringe on their right to free speech,”  Lowe said. “This decision seems to say that Uber’s [First] Amendment right is more important than that of their drivers.”

WHY UBER, LYFT’S FUTURE IN CALIFORNIA COULD BE DECIDED BY VOTERS

Ulmer also disagreed with plaintiffs’ allegations that Uber is causing drivers to fear that the company might retaliate against them if they do not express support for Prop. 22. “Plaintiffs’ claimed interim harm is ‘political coercion’ by Uber. However, plaintiffs’ papers point to no Uber driver who has been in any way punished for not cooperating with the Proposition 22 campaign or advocating against it,” he wrote.

A driver and passenger wearing protective masks exit the ride sharing pickup area in a car displaying Uber Technologies signage at San Francisco International Airport. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The drivers’ lawsuit was filed the same day a California appeals court ruled against Uber and Lyft, saying they must comply with state laws to reclassify drivers. The companies appealed, and have threatened to leave the state altogether if they are forced to reclassify drivers.

The ruling does not go into effect until after Nov. 3 but could limit options for Uber and Lyft should Prop. 22 fail.

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Rideshare companies argue that being forced to reclassify now will leave “hundreds of thousands of Californians out of work” and shut down rideshare services in parts of the state due to increased costs for the companies, according to a Thursday statement from Uber.

California legislators argue that rideshare drivers are entitled to the benefits that come with employee classification, such as health care, paid sick leave, family leave, workers’ compensation, vacation days and more.

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