Prop 22 passage means work remains ‘gig’

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A woman orders a ride through a ridesharing app. Photo courtesy of Freepik.com.

The future of the gig economy in California is looking up.

On Nov. 3, voters in California passed Proposition 22, a ballot proposition ensuring gig workers remain independent contractors rather than employees of app-based companies, with 58.5 percent of the vote.

The proposition exempts app-based companies such as Lyft and Uber from California Assembly Bill 5, which required gig workers to be classified as employees. 

Under AB5, Lyft and Uber would have been required to provide drivers with a minimum wage, healthcare, paid sick leave, unemployment, and worker’s compensation coverage.

Lodi resident Kurt Anderson, an Uber driver, said he is happy Proposition 22 passed because he likes the flexibility of being an independent contractor.

“I wouldn’t do it if it were considered a job,” Anderson said.

Anderson, who previously worked as a police dispatcher for 28 years, has been driving for Uber since 2018.

“I wanted to continue working after retiring, but I also wanted the ability to make it to my children’s high school sports games. A real job wouldn’t give me that,” he said.

Stockton resident Bridget Lawson drove for Lyft for a year before becoming a stay-at-home mother in 2019.

“I loved being able to decide how long I wanted to drive for, if it was picking up someone along the way to where I was going or if I wanted to drive for the entire day,” Lawson said. “I loved that I wasn’t tied down to certain time frames or certain locations.”

Lawson said she would often drive to San Francisco or San Jose, where rideshare drivers are in high demand. She even drove riders around Los Angeles, Palm Springs, and Hollywood when she traveled to Southern California.

“Rideshare companies give you flexibility,” Lawson said. “I loved not knowing where I’d go, what I’d see, the conversations I’d have, or who I’d meet throughout my day.”

According to Lyft, drivers are offered medical, dental, and vision insurance options, as well as free access to licensed therapists through their Modern Health partnership.

Lawson said she had the opportunity to receive health benefits from Lyft, but declined as she already had her own insurance provider.

While Lawson and other drivers have been offered health benefits by Lyft, opponents of Proposition 22 argue the proposition prevents drivers from receiving benefits California employees are entitled to.

United States Senator Bernie Sanders has spoken out against Proposition 22, tweeting: “I’m opposed to Prop. 22 because people working full time deserve decent wages and good benefits.”

Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris has also spoken out too, tweeting: “We cannot allow giant gig companies to exempt themselves from providing essential protections and benefits for their workers.”

Not receiving employer benefits doesn’t bother Anderson.

“Drivers know what they’re getting into when they sign on,” he said. “If it doesn’t suit them or if they need other benefits, they could get a job that offers those things. I wouldn’t go to work for Target and try to change the way they do things — I’d find another job.”