Decision 2020

Drivers on Both Sides of Prop 22: What They Want Voters to Know

NBC Universal, Inc.

Does your rideshare and food delivery driver deserve to be treated as an employee of the company they’re driving for? That’s a decision you will get to make this election.

A state law that took effect back in January makes it harder for companies to treat app-based drivers as independent contractors, as they always have, instead of employees.

Thanks to that law, many drivers are now supposed to get workplace protections, like minimum wage, overtime pay and paid sick time.

But Lyft, Uber and DoorDash have each poured nearly $50 million into Prop 22, which would override this law. Driver Jack Kinney is all for it.

“This effort to make me an employee is trying to fix a problem that I don't have,” said Kinney. 

Kinney says he quit his full-time job to drive for Lyft and Uber two years ago. He says he makes a good living -- enough to support his family. And he likes his 100% flexible schedule, something he fears he’d lose as a traditional employee. 

“I live a life separate from my work,” Kinney said. “And I set the hours for myself of when I want to work and when I don’t want to work. If one of my grandkids has a Little League game that they want me to go to, I can just go ‘yeah, I’ll show up.’”

Under Prop 22, companies can still classify drivers as independent contractors, but drivers will get some employee benefits, like an hourly wage above the state minimum. Drivers who work a certain number of hours will also get a stipend for health insurance.

“If I work a minimum of 15 hours for each app, I will be reimbursed more than what I spend for my insurance for both my wife and myself,” said Kinney.

But drivers on the flip side of the issue say Prop 22 is allowing companies to rewrite the current law on their terms. 

“It will legalize this exploitation that Uber and Lyft have been doing to their drivers the entire time,” said Jerome Gage. 

Jerome Gage, who says he also quit a full-time job five years ago to drive for Uber and Lyft, points out that Uber and Lyft never complied with the recent law to protect drivers. In fact, California’s attorney general sued them over it this past spring. Jerome says Prop 22 is a watered down version of the law. 

“Everything that Uber and Lyft are offering us is below what we’re entitled to right now,” Gage said. 

Gage says he won’t be paid minimum wage, as proponents of Prop 22 claim, because companies will only pay drivers from the time they accept a ride to the time they drop off a passenger. Gage estimates he’d make about $5 an hour. 

“After every single ride, when I get out and sanitize the car, I'm not getting paid for that,” said Gage. “If I get a flat tire on the road, I’m not getting paid for that. If I’m returning a lost item, a lost wallet or cellphone, to a passenger, I’m not getting paid for that time.”

Two drivers, representing two very different opinions, on an issue that greatly impacts them. 

“We can’t encourage companies and reward companies for writing their own laws,” said Gage. “We need to beat them at the ballot in November.”

“Yes on 22 means that I can go ahead and continue to live a life of doing what I want when I want,” said Kinney.

The attorney general lawsuit is working its way through the courts. We asked Lyft and Uber for comment on the lawsuit, but they didn’t share one.

To read more on Prop 22, visit this site.

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