Ride-share drivers lined up a little differently Thursday outside LAX, sending a message that before they pick anyone up, they want the companies they work for to obey the law and stop threatening to leave the state.
An appeals court Thursday gave ride-share companies more time to comply with a court order to treat their drivers as employees instead of independent contractors, a shift that was required by a new state law. Uber and Lyft are fighting that law with a measure on the ballot in November, but drivers took to LAX in protest.
“They threatened London and they threatened New York and it didn't work, so why do they think it's going to work in California?” Uber driver Michell-e Lawrence said.
By midday, the threat to leave as early as Friday was postponed. An appeals court gave the two companies more time to comply with a court order to make their drivers employees and provide more benefits as required by AB5, the law that took effect this year.
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“We are showing with this airport that we are serious about it and they need to reconsider,” Jose Cabrera, an Uber and Lyft driver, said.
The drivers protesting said Uber and Lyft don't pay them enough to cover their expenses. Many also said they have to work two jobs just to survive, which is even harder now because of the pandemic.
The companies say AB5 hurts riders and drivers.
Whether or not Uber and Lyft actually leave California may be decided on election day, when voters decide on proposition 22, which would exempt the companies from classifying their drivers as employees. The companies insist that most of their drivers want to remain independent contractors.
Rodrigo is one driver who said he wants his status to stay the same.
“Without being an independent contractor you don't have the flexibility and that's what I love about the job,” he said.
After one rider finally got his Uber ride home from LAX amid the protest, he said he hopes both sides work it out.
“It’s very convenient and I would be pretty bummed if it were to go away,” Gerald Rawles, a Culver City resident, said.