On Tuesday night, the California State Senate passed a landmark bill that is expected to improve the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of contractors operated by open-cap carpooling companies such as Uber and Lyft. The Assembly's Bill 5 (AB5), which aimed to improve the livelihoods of these workers, was passed by 29 votes to 11. The bill is now heading to the California governor's office , Gavin Newsom, although he is supposed to sign it. Once signed, the law would come into force on January 1, 2020.
Despite Uber's and Lyft's efforts to negotiate an exemption, the bill as passed will compel the two companies to force their drivers to employ W-2 drivers – forcing companies to pay to their drivers. drivers a standard list of benefits, at least the minimum wage in California.
This would go against the business models of these companies and similar companies in Silicon Valley, such as Doordash, which depend on workers in the economy sector of the big economy, who often suffer incoherent wages. and little or no benefit.
Since the announcement of the adoption of the law in the most populous state of the United States, the two companies have responded by spreading false information about the bill to organize the resistance or categorically refusing to comply.
In an email directed to drivers, Lyft said that "following AB5," drivers could be forced to drive "specific changes, stick to specific areas and not lead only to a single platform ". "We continue to advocate for a solution that protects your independence and your income," reads in the e-mail, including the proposed changes.
A driver tweeted a screenshot of the e-mail saying that if the changes did not happen, his "carpool days would be over."
Ken Jacobs, president of the Labor and Employment Research Institute of the Union Research and Education Center at UC Berkeley, told Salon that a such change was not enshrined in law. Lyft would choose to apply these changes themselves.
"The decision to switch to changes rather than continuing the model – nothing in the law requires that … if Lyft does, it will be the company's decision to do so. This is not a requirement of law, "said Jacobs. "They say How they could react, they could take action – but it's their decisions … [not] the requirement of the law. "
In the e-mail, also echoing what Uber said, Lyft pointed out that he wanted to improve the benefits offered to drivers – including paid sick leave and family leave – to which AB5 drivers could have access.
When asked why Lyft continued to oppose the bill while both programs were aligned on improving benefits, a Lyft spokesperson told Salon that his goal was to retain the "flexibility" of the drivers.
"We are very willing to subject this issue to California voters in order to preserve the freedom and access of drivers and riders to the will," said Lyft spokesman Adrian Durbin in a statement. communicated by e-mail.
Jacobs told Salon that there are trade-offs between flexibility and security, but ultimately these compromises are more effective in labor-to-business negotiations. Under AB5 workers in these companies will finally be able to join a union. Under national law, entertainment workers face antitrust problems when organizing and negotiating their wages.
Tony West, Uber's legal advisor, said in a phone conversation with reporters that drivers may not be subject to the new rules.
"According to this three-part test, the main hurdle is probably that a company has to prove that contractors are performing work" out of the ordinary course "of its business," said West. "Several previous decisions have shown that driver work is not part of Uber's normal course of business, which serves as a technology platform for several types of digital markets."
He also stated that the company was committed to hiring "the best campaign team and the best advisers possible to carry out a voting initiative" in order to modify or overthrow AB5.
Kati Sipp, an expert in workforce organization in the market economy, said it would appear that these companies are taking almost a page out of Donald Trump's game book.
"One has the impression that they take a page from Trump's game book and that they directly interpret parts of the legislation that give a misinterpretation," Sipp told Salon. "It will be interesting to see once the file arrives and see how much they have spent to put pressure on this law, but it is extremely clear that they think that their wealth gives them the right to do what they want." ;they want."
Rebecca Stack-Martinez, Gig Workers Rising organizer, told Salon that in an interview she was not surprised by the reactions from the companies.
"They've been doing it since the very beginning of AB5," Stack-Martinez said. "It's not surprising that they use deceptive propaganda tactics about fear … we see it every time workers defend themselves and start winning."