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Prop 22 Passes: App-Based Drivers Will Remain Contractors

An illustration depicts a bar chart with the label "Prop 22."
(Illustration by Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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California voters have approved Proposition 22, according to the Associated Press, which means the drivers for Uber, Lyft and other app-based ride hailing and delivery services will remain as independent contractors, rather than employees.

In what was the most expensive ballot measure fight in state history, gig companies led by Uber, Lyft and DoorDash succeeded in persuading voters to strip app-based drivers of employee rights they had won under a new state law.

WHAT PROP 22 WILL DO

The new state law, AB5, made it much harder for gig companies to classify their workers as independent contractors. Since AB5 went into effect at the start of 2020, judges had ruled that Uber and Lyft must treat their drivers as employees.

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Proponents argued that many drivers enjoy the ability to work according to their own schedules. They said the employee model would force gig companies to exert more control over their workers, potentially limiting the number of drivers on their platforms and dictating when and where they must work. Some drivers who use the platforms on a part-time basis to supplement other sources of income worried they would not be hired on as employees.

In response to concerns that full-time drivers are struggling to make ends meet -- with some earning less than California's minimum wage -- the initiative included a few concessions such as an earnings floor and health insurance stipends for some drivers (but no guarantee of health coverage).

Opponents pointed out that if Prop 22 passed and drivers maintained their contract worker status, they would be ineligible for employment benefits such as a minimum wage, overtime pay, health coverage, paid sick leave and the right to form a union. They also noted that it would be nearly impossible for the state's legislature to overturn the measure since it would require a seven-eighths majority to amend it.

FISCAL ANALYSIS

The state's Legislative Analyst's Office concluded that the measure would likely lead to a "minor increase in state income taxes paid by rideshare and delivery company drivers and investors."

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The analysis assumes that by spending less on worker compensation, companies would be able to offer cheaper rides and deliveries. Customers would use the services more and the companies' stock prices would rise, causing drivers and shareholders to pay more in state income tax.

WHO SUPPORTED IT

A coalition of tech giants including Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart and Postmates spent close to $200 million on the campaign to pass Prop 22. They flooded the state with advertisements warning that if Prop 22 failed, drivers would lose the flexibility to work whenever and wherever they choose.

In many cases, companies used their own apps to tell their workers how to vote. At times, Uber drivers were unable to pick up rides until they hit "Yes On Prop 22" or "OK" in response to campaign messages.

WHO OPPOSED IT

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The campaign opposing Prop 22 raised 10 times less than the proponents. Top donors included labor unions such as the California Labor Federation, the Service Employees International Union and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Despite being vastly outspent, the No on Prop 22 campaign gained national attention, with presidential candidate Joe Biden, vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Bernie Sanders all lining up to oppose the measure.

YOUR BALLOT

You can track the status of your ballot:

If your mail-in ballot is rejected for any reason (like a missing or mismatched signature), your county registrar must contact you to give you a chance to fix it. In Los Angeles County, the registrar will send you a notification by mail and you have until Nov. 28 to reply and "cure" your ballot.

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A Note On The Results

  • The first results released included early voting, including mail-in ballots received before election day. In the past, local election officials have said all votes received and processed by the day before the election (in this case, Monday Nov. 2) are included in the first count. However, the high volume of mail-in ballots may mean that's not the case this election.
  • Keep in mind that in tight races particularly, the outcome may not be determined for some time.
  • In California, ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 3 may be counted toward the results as long as they arrive within 17 days of the election.
  • Results are finalized by county election officials 30 days after election day.

HOW WE ARE COVERING THIS ELECTION

The unprecedented number of early voters and mail-in ballots this election means it's going to take more time to get votes counted. Our priority will be sharing outcomes and election calls only when they have been thoroughly checked and vetted. To that end, we will rely on NPR and The Associated Press for race calls. We will not report the calls or projections of other news outlets. You can find more on NPR and The AP's process for counting votes and calling races here, here and here.

OTHER RESULTS WE ARE FOLLOWING CLOSELY

In L.A.

Statewide

Congress