This is huge. The California state SenateÂ passed Assembly Bill 5, which will rein in gig economy abuses, in a 29 to 11 vote. App-based companies like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash tried to negotiate an exemption for themselves, but legislators held firm and the billâ€”which needs to be re-passed by the state Assembly and then signed by Gov. Gavin Newsomâ€”includes those key players in the gig economy.
AB5 puts into law a 2018 California Supreme Court decision imposing stricter tests on whether a worker can be counted as an independent contractor. Under that decision and under AB5, companies canâ€™t call workers independent contractors if the work they do is central to the companyâ€™s mission or if the company substantially directs their work. That applies not just Uber drivers and food delivery workers but to port truck drivers, janitors, manicurists, strippers, and some tech workers.
Once it becomes law, AB5 is expected to affect more than a million California workers, and could set a model for other states. AB5 â€śfinally asserts one set of standards for determining employee status for all workers, putting an end to the chaos of poverty and despair gig bosses created in their pursuit of profits at any cost,â€ť saidÂ New York Taxi Workers Alliance Executive Director Bhairavi Desai.Â â€śNow all workersâ€”from nail salon workers, to delivery workers, to app driversâ€”will have employee protections if their work is part of the core services of the company that employs them.â€ť She went on to callÂ for â€śthe same clarity for employee status here in New York State.â€ť
â€ťToday the so-called gig companies present themselves as the innovative future of tomorrow, a future where companies donâ€™t pay Social Security or Medicare,â€ť said state Sen.Â Maria Elena Durazo, a longtime labor leader turned elected official. â€śLetâ€™s be clear: there is nothing innovative about underpaying someone for their labor.â€ť
â€ťMisclassification is an attempt to weaken the power of workers, including the thousands of truck drivers in California who deserve a living wage and full rights as employees. With this vote, the California Senate has taken a strong stand with workers who should earn a living wage and have the protections to which they are entitled,â€ť Teamsters president Jim Hoffa said in a statement.
The California Assembly and Newsom are expected to put AB5 into law without drama. But Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash are vowing to add drama by pouring nearly $100 million into a ballot initiative trying to get themselves exempted from the law.
This article was originally published at Daily Kos on September 11, 2019. Reprinted with permission.