Uber plans to keep defending independent contractor model for drivers – gpgmail


In light of gig worker protections bill AB5 passing in the California State Senate last night, amendments to AB5 passing in the Assembly this morning, Uber has made it clear it plans to do whatever it takes to keep its drivers independent contractors.

“We will continue to advocate for a compromised agreement,” Uber Chief Legal Officer Tony West said on a press call today.

As Uber outlined last month, the company is pushing for a framework that would establish a guaranteed earnings minimum while on a trip, offer portable benefits and enable drivers to “have a collective voice.”

He went on to say that Uber is continuing to explore several legal and political options to lay the groundwork for a statewide ballot initiative in 2020. Uber and Lyft announced a $60 million joint initiative last month, and now, West is saying Uber is open to investing even more money in that committee account.

“This is not our first choice,” West said. “At the same time, we need to make sure we are exploring all options and all alternatives to put forward a framework that works for the 21st-century economy and we believe we have a framework that does that.”

AB5 would help to ensure gig economy workers are entitled to minimum wage, workers’ compensation and other benefits by requiring employers to apply the ABC test. The bill, first introduced in December 2018, aims to codfiy the ruling established in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v Superior Court of Los Angeles. In that case, the court applied the ABC test and decided Dynamex wrongfully classified its workers as independent contractors.

According to the ABC test, in order for a hiring entity to legally classify a worker as an independent contractor, it must prove the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity, performs work outside the scope of the entity’s business and is regularly engaged in an “independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.”

If Uber were to fail this test, drivers would not be able to determine when, where and how often they work, nor would they be able to work for more than one platform at a time, West said.

“I do think there would be significant changes in the experience drivers would have,” West said.

But West believes Uber would not fail this test. While it will be required to pass this test in the likely event AB5 gets signed into law, West pointed out “we have been successful in arguing under this ABC test in the past that drivers are independent and independent contractors,” West said. “We believe that to be true.”

There would surely be a financial impact if Uber fails the test, but West declined to comment on just what that fiscal impact would be. Industry analysts, however, have estimated it could result in up to a 30% cost increase.

As noted earlier, the bill is expected to pass, as Gov. Gavin Newsom has previously expressed his support for the measure. Though, Newsom said earlier today that he’s still in negotiations with both Uber and Lyft.

“The governor has been pretty clear he is fully committed to a negotiated solution here,” West said in a press call today. “He’s been clear to us on that message in private and has publicly stated that now.”

Following the bill’s passing in the Senate, Lyft said the state missed an opportunity to support the majority of rideshare drivers who want a solution that balances flexibility with earnings standard and benefits.

“The fact that there were more than 50 industries carved out of AB5 is very telling,” a Lyft spokesperson said. “We are fully prepared to take this issue to the voters of California to preserve the freedom and access drivers and riders want and need.”

Earlier today, Lyft sent out an email to drivers regarding AB5 and how if it’s signed into law, drivers “may soon be required to drive specific shifts, stick to specific areas, and drive for only a single platform (such as Lyft, Uber, Doordash, or others).”

Despite what Uber and Lyft are saying, there are a number of drivers who have fought long and hard to ensure the bill passes. Two of the main organizations behind the actions in support of AB5 are Gig Workers Rising and Mobile Workers Alliance. In addition to urging legislators pass AB5, Uber and Lyft drivers organizing with Gig Workers Rising also want the right to form a union.

“AB 5 is only the beginning,” Edan Alva, a driver with Gig Workers Rising, said in a statement. “I talk daily to other drivers who want a change but they are scared. They don’t want to lose their only source of income. But just because someone really needs to work does not mean that their rights as a worker should be stepped all over. That is why a union is critical. It simply won’t work without it.”


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Gig worker bill AB-5 passes in California – gpgmail


Assembly Bill 5, the gig worker bill opposed by the likes of Uber, Lyft and DoorDash, has passed in the California State Senate. This comes shortly after California Governor Gavin Newsom officially put his support behind AB 5 in an op-ed.

The bill needed 21 votes to pass in the State Senate. It passed in a 29 to 11 vote this evening.

The next step is for Governor Newsom to sign the bill into law, which he is expected to do. If he signs the bill, it will go into effect at the beginning of 2020.

“AB 5 is only the beginning,” Gig Workers Rising member and driver Edan Alva said in a statement. “I talk daily to other drivers who want a change but they are scared. They don’t want to lose their only source of income. But just because someone really needs to work does not mean that their rights as a worker should be stepped all over. That is why a union is critical. It simply won’t work without it.”

The bill, first introduced in December 2018, aims to codfiy the ruling established in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v Superior Court of Los Angeles. In that case, the court applied the ABC test and decided Dynamex wrongfully classified its workers as independent contractors based on the presumption that “a worker who performs services for a hirer is an employee for purposes of claims for wages and benefits…”

Those who work as 1099 contractors can set their own schedules, and decide when, where and how much they want to work. For employers, bringing on 1099 contractors means they can avoid paying payroll taxes, overtime pay, benefits and workers’ compensation.

According to the ABC test, in order for a hiring entity to legally classify a worker as an independent contractor, it must prove the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity, performs work outside the scope of the entity’s business and is regularly engaged in an “independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.”

In short, AB-5, which has already passed in the California State Assembly, would ensure gig economy workers are entitled to minimum wage, workers’ compensation and other benefits.

Uber and Lyft, two of the main targets of this legislation, are adamantly against it. Last month, Uber, Lyft and DoorDash amped up their efforts to do whatever they can to prevent it from happening. That’s in part due to the fact that the companies cost of operating would increase.

Uber, Lyft and DoorDash each put $30 million toward funding a 2020 ballot initiative that would enable them to keep their drivers as independent contractors.

Assuming Gov. Newsom signs the bill, it will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.




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Uber and Lyft are putting $60 million toward keeping drivers independent contractors – gpgmail


In light of gig worker protection legislation Assembly Bill 5 making its way through California’s legislature, Uber and Lyft are amping up their efforts to do whatever they can to prevent it from happening. And in the event that the bill does pass, which would force Uber and Lyft to make their drivers W-2 employees, both companies are each putting in $30 million to fund a ballot initiative that would enable them to keep their drivers as independent contractors, The New York Times first reported.

Right now, it’s just Uber and Lyft on board but there are talks of other companies joining. The ballot initiative, while not set in stone, would enable companies to provide workers benefits, establish wage commitments and guarantees, offer flexibility and establish that drivers are not employees, an Uber spokesperson told gpgmail.

“We are working on a solution that provides drivers with strong protections that include an earnings guarantee, a system of worker-directed portable benefits, and first-of-its kind industry-wide sectoral bargaining, without jeopardizing the flexibility drivers tell us they value so much,” a Lyft spokesperson told gpgmail. “We remain focused on reaching a deal, and are confident about bringing this issue to the voters if necessary.”

The formation of the campaign committee comes shortly after Uber and Lyft urged drivers and passengers to contact their legislators. In Uber’s email, the company advocated for a policy that would offer drivers a minimum of $21 per hour while on a trip, paid time off, sick leave and compensation if they are injured while driving, as well as a collective voice and “the ability to influence decisions about their work.”

Similarly, Lyft is proposing a minimum of $21 per booked hour, meaning while either driving to pick someone up or dropping them off. Called a Rideshare Drivers Benefit Fund, Lyft says that could include injured worker protections for all drivers across California, paid sick leave and paid family leave for drivers who spend 20 hours or more per week in booked rides.

Gig Workers Rising, one of the organizations responsible for bringing drivers together to support AB-5 and demand the right to unionize, said it’s no coincidence that Uber and Lyft started circulating these messages on the last day of a statewide action demanding AB5 and a union that Uber and Lyft would begin circulating these messages to drivers and passengers.

“Everything that Uber and Lyft are offering is insulting to drivers,” Lauren Casey of Gig Workers Rising told gpgmail earlier today regarding the messages Uber and Lyft sent out yesterday. “This is nothing new. All they’ve done since AB5 was introduced is spread misinformation and fear. This shows us that Uber and Lyft are worried. Drivers have been organizing and fighting hard for AB5 for months, and, it’s working.”

AB-5, which seeks to codify the ruling established in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v Superior Court of Los Angeles. In that case, the court applied the ABC test and decided Dynamex wrongfully classified its workers as independent contractors based on the presumption that “a worker who performs services for a hirer is an employee for purposes of claims for wages and benefits…”

According to the ABC test, in order for a hiring entity to legally classify a worker as an independent contractor, it must prove the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity, performs work outside the scope of the entity’s business and is regularly engaged in an “independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.”

In short, AB-5, which has already passed in the California State Assembly, would ensure gig economy workers are entitled to minimum wage, workers’ compensation and other benefits. That would mean major changes in both Uber and Lyft’s business models and bottom lines.


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Uber proposes policy that would pay drivers a minimum wage of $21 per hour – gpgmail


On the heels of a driver-led protest outside Uber’s San Francisco headquarters where drivers showed their support for gig worker protections legislation Assembly Bill 5 and demanded a union, Uber is circulating a petition urging people to “protect ridesharing in California.” In the petition, Uber advocates for a policy that would offer drivers a minimum of $21 per hour, paid time off, sick leave and compensation if they are injured while driving, as well as a collective voice and “the ability to influence decisions about their work.”

Uber has also created a new website called “Independent Driver” to showcase stories from drivers who want to remain independent contractors. Lyft, similarily, is circulating a petition urging people to demand legislators “fix AB 5.”

“We agree with the bill’s goal to protect workers, but we don’t agree that this protection should come at the cost of the flexibility our community relies on to supplement their income, support their families, and set their own schedules,” Lyft wrote in its petition. “After talking with thousands of California drivers and listening to experts in labor laws, we’re proposing a revision that protects driver earnings and the flexibility to earn when and how you want. Our proposal includes additional workplace protections for drivers and a minimum earnings floor.”

I’ve reached out to Gig Workers Rising, one of the organizations responsible for bringing drivers together to support AB-5 and demand the right to unionize. I’ll update this story if I hear back. But, based on the organization’s recent tweet, what Uber is offering isn’t enough.

“$21 isn’t a living wage for any category of worker in the San Francisco metro area except a single adult or two adults living together,” Gig Workers Rising tweeted. “What they’re offering is the floor, while hoping to kneecap any efforts to raise wages down the line & create a real union.”

These petitions are clearly hail marys by Lyft and Uber to try to prevent the passage of AB-5, which seeks to codify the ruling established in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v Superior Court of Los Angeles. In that case, the court applied the ABC test and decided Dynamex wrongfully classified its workers as independent contractors based on the presumption that “a worker who performs services for a hirer is an employee for purposes of claims for wages and benefits…”

According to the ABC test, in order for a hiring entity to legally classify a worker as an independent contractor, it must prove the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity, performs work outside the scope of the entity’s business and is regularly engaged in an “independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.”

In short, AB-5, which has already passed in the California State Assembly, would ensure gig economy workers are entitled to minimum wage, workers’ compensation and other benefits.




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Uber and Lyft drivers are not letting up on the fight for AB-5 and a union – gpgmail


A number Uber and Lyft drivers are protesting outside of Uber’s San Francisco headquarters to demand the passage of Assembly Bill 5 and the right to unionize.

“What do we want? AB-5! When do we want it? Now!” That was one of the phrases drivers chanted outside of Uber’s HQ this afternoon.

This is part of a three-day caravan across California organized by Gig Workers Rising and Mobile Workers Alliance. As part of the protest, drivers are circling the blocks around Uber’s HQ honking their horns and sporting signs that say “AB5 + a union.”

“The journey is inspired by the United Farm Workers 1966 pilgrimage from Delano to Sacramento, led by Cesar Chavez,” MWA wrote on its blog. “Like gig workers in California, farm workers were thought to be impossible to organize and their exploitation was taken as a given by the public at large. The UFW proved the doubters wrong and we will too.”

The aim of the caravan is to rally drivers throughout California to advocate for their collective rights and make it clear to legislators they want AB-5 to pass. AB-5 seeks to codify the ruling established in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v Superior Court of Los Angeles. In that case, the court applied the ABC test and decided Dynamex wrongfully classified its workers as independent contractors based on the presumption that “a worker who performs services for a hirer is an employee for purposes of claims for wages and benefits…”

Those who work as 1099 contractors can set their own schedules, and decide when, where and how much they want to work. For employers, bringing on 1099 contractors means they can avoid paying payroll taxes, overtime pay, benefits and workers’ compensation.

According to the ABC test, in order for a hiring entity to legally classify a worker as an independent contractor, it must prove the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity, performs work outside the scope of the entity’s business and is regularly engaged in an “independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.”

In short, AB-5, which has already passed in the California State Assembly, would ensure gig economy workers are entitled to minimum wage, workers’ compensation and other benefits.

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Today represents the third protest at Uber’s HQ since May, when drivers protested ahead of Uber’s IPO. Their demands have remained consistent, asking for better wages, benefits, transparent policies, a voice and the right to form a union.

The protest also comes shortly after Jalopnik found discrepancies between how much Uber and Lyft say they pay their drivers versus how much they actually do.

But neither Lyft nor Uber wants AB-5 pass. Uber says drivers tell the company what they value most is the flexibility to work whenever, wherever and for whomever they want.

“We believe that independent, on-demand workers should not have to sacrifice security to enjoy that flexibility,” an Uber spokesperson told gpgmail. “That’s why we’ve been working with stakeholders to find a path forward that provides a minimum earnings guarantee for drivers; a robust package of portable benefits they can access no matter which rideshare company they drive for; and meaningful representation that gives them a say on matters affecting their lives and livelihood.”

Similarly, Lyft says it’s advocating for an approach that is in line with the interests of its drivers, which would entail flexibility and benefits.

“That’s why we’ve been working with lawmakers and labor leaders on a different solution, so drivers can continue to control where, when, and how long they drive, while also having some basic protections like a minimum earnings floor, a system of worker-directed portable benefits, and representation,” the spokesperson said.

It’s worth noting that Gig Workers Rising and Mobile Workers Alliance do not represent all drivers. Lyft has shared thousands of messages it says drivers have sent to legislators demanding they protect their flexibility. However, as driver and protest organizer Annette Rivero previously told gpgmail’s Greg Epstein, “AB5 doesn’t take away anybody’s flexibility, it’s the companies that take away the flexibility. Because I know that that’s something that everyone’s stuck on right now, and it’s a lie. There’s no truth to it.”

Developing…


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