RSG107: What AB5 Means for the Rideshare Industry with Alex Rosenblat

In California, Assembly Bill 5 recently passed and could uproot the entire economy. We’ve covered AB5 extensively, but today I wanted to talk to someone who knows the industry (and regulations surrounding the gig economy) well, someone who could give us a bigger bigger about what AB5 means for gig workers and rideshare drivers. In this episode, I’m chatting with Alex Rosenblat about how AB5 could affect anyone in the gig economy, what Uber and Lyft are doing to fight AB5, and more.

If you’d like to read a transcript of this podcast, please click here.


  • Today I’m talking with Alex Rosenblat, a researcher, author, and someone who really has a pulse on driver issues
  • Alex has been on the podcast before, and we also reviewed her book, Uberland
  • She has done a tremendous amount of research not only on drivers, but on the gig economy overall
  • This will be a quick episode, but you won’t want to miss it!

Intro to Alex Rosenblat

  • Alex Rosenblat is a technology ethnographer, author of Uberland: How Algorithms are Rewriting the Rules of Work
  • Alex’s 3rd time on the show!
  • Several things to cover today: AB5, and Uber/Lyft’s fight against AB5 in California

Discussion on AB5

  • AB5 is a catalyst for the conversations we’ve been having for years about Uber/Lyft and the gig economy overall
  • Is Uber a tech company or a transportation company? Want to have it both ways and finally they’re being forced to choose
  • Uber and Lyft fighting against the classification of workers as employees – will go to great lengths to avoid that

Fight Against AB5

  • Uber and Lyft must have a number of backup plans, had time to prepare for this challenge
  • However, right now there is this backlash against tech companies and Uber is a low hanging fruit
  • Chances are AB5 in its current version right now will change
  • Hard for the discussion between ‘Uber is bad’ and ‘Uber is wonderful’ to come together

Is AB5 the Solution to Driver Woes?

  • Overall, driving is better suited for part-time drivers – doing it full time is really tough
  • Lack of benefits, stressful, etc.
  • AB5 conversation seems to leave out part time drivers
  • Question is: should the standard be set for the recreational worker or the breadwinner worker?

Future of AB5

  • Uber and Lyft will drag their feet – basically, will cities or government agencies sue them?
  • It won’t take affect day 1 – there are clearly challenges to AB5
  • Political will has shifted more toward regulation, however
  • Willingness to take this challenge on is more apparent than before
  • Opportunity for compromise is there

Drivers Opinions on Uber/Lyft

  • Even the drivers that don’t support AB5 seem loathe to side with Uber
  • They’ve been lied to in the past or don’t have a lot of expectation that U/L will do the right thing – lack of trust
  • In the end, not everyone is going to get what they want – it’s a difficult situation all around


  • Big thanks to Alex for coming on the podcast and chatting all about AB5
  • Big thing we covered was a shift in political will – in 2015, this kind of law would have been shot down easily. Not the case anymore.
  • There is a potential for compromise, but it looks like this will be a drawn out legal battle
  • Curious to see the outcome!

Related article: Ab5 Uber – Everything You Need To Know

Show Notes

If you’d like to read a transcript of this podcast, please click here.