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Uber, Lyft and DoorDash start a $ 90 million fight against California's worker law

A group of drivers and couriers for Uber, Lyft and DoorDash launched a new group called Protect app-based drivers & services, which is aimed at taking a vote in California to counter the effects of the recently adopted state bill on cigarette workers. The effort is supported by the companies, which have vowed to spend $ 90 million to make the measure a success in 2020.

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Meeting Bill 5, presented by California Gov on September 18. Gavin Newsom (D) was signed, anchors the so-called "ABC test" to determine whether someone is a contractor or employee. Legal experts agree that the law will make it harder for gig economy companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash to classify their drivers and couriers as independent contractors. And the companies have argued that the law poses an existential threat to their business models.

As such, the companies were preparing this contingency plan even before Newsom signed the bill. On August 29 The New York Times reported that Uber, Lyft and DoorDash would spend $ 90 million ($ 30 million each) to take a voting initiative that would essentially exempt them from the law. (InstaCart is also involved, but it has not committed itself to spending money to support the passage.) The hope was that the companies, after contacting legislators and labor groups, could get an extension by directly on voters.

The voting measure asks voters to approve the following:

  • At least 120 percent of the minimum wage
  • $ 0.30 per mile for expenses such as gas and vehicle wear
  • Healthcare subsidies in accordance with employer's contributions under the Affordable Care Act for drivers who work 15 hours a week or more
  • Occupational accident insurance to cover injuries during work
  • Car accident and liability insurance
  • Protection against discrimination and sexual harassment
  • Recurring background checks of driver & # 39; s
  • Mandatory safety training for drivers
  • Zero tolerance for alcohol and drug offenses
  • A maximum for the driving hours per day to prevent sleepy driving

It is a new twist on the failed proposal that Uber and Lyft presented to government officials as a compromise to prevent the passage of AB5. The companies had promised to pay their drivers $ 21 per hour (but only during a trip), to give sick leave and to "empower" them to have a "collective voice" – a nod to drivers who form a union.

However, after AB5 was over, Uber and Lyft warned that drivers could lose their flexibility to drive whenever they wanted. "Drivers would not be able to choose when they want to sign up whenever they want," said Tony West, general adviser at Uber, in September. "They would work in shifts like any other employee works in shifts." Experts have said that there is nothing in federal or national legislation to prevent Uber from offering its drivers the same flexibility as employees.

(West also claimed that Uber could eventually pass the ABC test because "the work of drivers is outside Uber's normal course of business.")

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The voting measure is a risky – and costly – move for Uber and Lyft, insofar as it could further counter trade unions that have been enormously influential on the passage of AB5. Trade unions defended the law throughout the legislative process and have been central to the fight for action in California.

"This measure is another brutal attempt by some of the richest companies in California to prevent them from following the same rules as all other law-abiding companies in our state," said Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation. pronunciation. "The California trade unions are joining drivers who want fair wages, better treatment and flexibility to beat this business trick."

Meanwhile, union-supported groups and other AB5 supporters are planning to protest outside the homes of major Uber investors, including Uber board member and Benchmark Capital partner Bill Gurley.