Proposition 22 Harms Workers

Bikram Bains

Workers protest proposition 22

Reuters

Recently, rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft banded together to fund a political campaign to pass proposition 22 in California—and they succeeded.

 

Prop 22 is a law that outlines drivers for Uber, Lyft, Instacart, Postmates, and DoorDash to be independent contractors. An independent contractor is not the same as a full time employee where you get paid by the hour. Contract workers work for a certain amount of time or until they finish a job. As independent contractors, employees have less protections and benefits than full time employees. Companies claim that this new law will be nothing but good for their employees who have access to new benefits, however, the motive behind a $200 million law cannot be completely pure.  

 

Prop 22 also excuses these companies from other laws that require them to give their employees health care, overtime, paid sick days, and worker’s compensation. As a contractor, corporations will have to pay their employees less and can maximize their benefit. This is at the expense of the worker who now makes an estimated amount of less than $6 per hour according to a study conducted by UC Berkeley. Despite the evidence, these corporations dispute that fact and continue to claim that it helps their former employees. They continue to highlight the benefits of it in their ad campaign that says drivers will have more flexibility about when and where they work. An ad campaign collaboratively funded by Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart, and Postmates. 

 

This law does not only impact drivers, but all independent contractors across California. Now, independent contractors have more autonomy over their location and hours they work, but much less over their pay and benefits. As of now, there are 53 million independent contractors in California. By implementing this law, those people will no longer receive the same benefits during these trying times. Businesses now will have incentive to hire temporary workers instead of full time employees. This creates a gig economy that preys on the desperation of the worker rather than empowering them to offer their services.

 

Shares in all rideshare companies rose by $10 billion after the proposition was passed, which is indicative of their effect on the companies’ profit. This is expected as these companies have to pay less to their drivers, but it also includes a small increase in the state income taxes rideshare companies have to pay according to the official voting guide on prop 22. 


From president-elect Joe Biden to independent contractors in California, this law has faced fierce opposition for its predatory purpose. Regardless, the law was passed with a lot of support coming from drivers themselves! When pushing for this law to be passed, big tech companies have cooperated at a level that is unprecedented. The fierce competition between them was put aside for a while to mutually benefit. This blatant disregard for workers’ wellbeing sets an example on how low of a priority the employee is to large companies. 

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