By now, it’s apparent Uber and Lyft are not big fans of AB5 in California. They have already committed $90 million to defeat AB5 and have sponsored a statewide ballot initiative specifically for rideshare drivers. Below, senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins outlines how the Protect App-Based Drivers and Services Act initiative is coming along and what its goals are.
Since AB5 was passed, Lyft, Uber and other rideshare and delivery app-based companies have been working toward either proving their exemption or creating a new law, which would allow the companies to continue treating their drivers like independent contractors.
Related reading: All About the Minimum Wage Uber and Lyft Want to Pay Drivers
What’s Going On?
There is a ballot measure that a coalition of rideshare and delivery drivers are trying to push the Protect App-Based Drivers & Services Act (PABDASA). This is a new law that would trump the AB5 law and be specific to rideshare and delivery drivers.
This new law is quite extensive in nature and allows for a few things — such as guaranteed minimum wage, health insurance stipends and more. Plus, it would ensure drivers remain independent contractors instead of employees.
In order to get this proposed act on the ballot during the November 2020 elections, they need to procure approximately 630,000 qualified signatures. Qualified signatures are legitimate signatures from California registered voters. So, be sure you’re registered to vote before you decide to sign (if you decide to sign).
Uber has been aggressively courting drivers to support PABDASA, including messaging drivers through the app to state their opposition to AB5.
They can send messages like this as often as they want. FOR FREE.
I think many underestimate how powerful this is. pic.twitter.com/VTNy1ZQM1x
— Christian Perea (@ChristianJPerea) February 1, 2020
This isn’t the first time Uber/Lyft have sent misleading messages to drivers. Recode reported in June 2019 of drivers receiving misleading messages from Uber and Lyft about AB5. According to Recode, these messages, which did not specifically reference AB5, encouraged drivers to sign the petition:
Instead, they warn drivers that changes to California law could take away drivers’ options to drive at the times they want or work for more than one platform. For drivers who don’t speak or read English well, Uber’s and Lyft’s messages, which were not translated to other languages, have been even more confusing.
Additionally, we heard from some drivers that Uber/Lyft may be paying $4-7 per signature to get more signatures and support for PABDASA, but RSG could not independently verify this information.
Someone hired by @Uber or a affiliate [a Walmart in SD area]
Uber is trying to repeal #AB5 – they’ve convinced someone to con the public to believe it’s 4 “keeping affordable rates” meanwhile majority of California UberX Drivers make less than $1/mile. #SMH 👎 @_drivers_united pic.twitter.com/w7XAZSMpJ6
— Adam Lupercio (@AdamLupercio247) January 20, 2020
What Does the Ballot Measure Really Say?
The short answer? A lot. See some screenshots below, but if you want to read the whole thing, take a look!
In this section, this is stating that the purpose of the law is to protect the rights of Californians to work as independent contractors (including delivery and rideshare) and all that it entails.
This section proposes a guaranteed minimum wage (the state of California’s minimum wage or, if a local government’s is higher, then that minimum wage) for drivers and delivery couriers.
This section covers the healthcare stipend, or subsidy, provided to Uber and Lyft drivers (or any app-based driver, including delivery).
What Are the Next Steps?
If they obtain enough signatures by the deadline for getting on the ballot for the November 2020 elections, then the general voting public of California will get a chance to vote on it.
The deadline is basically by June 25, which is the last day for the Secretary of State to determine that the measure qualifies for the ballot. To see the full list of suggested deadlines, take a look at this appendix.
If it makes it on the ballot and the California voting public votes to approve it, it will become a new state law. Keep in mind, this is not creating an exemption from AB5… it is a new law that specifically pertains to rideshare and delivery drivers.
It was announced recently that the coalition of drivers supporting PABDASA have collected 25% of the signatures needed to get on the ballot in only three weeks of signature gathering. The campaign expects to collect around 1 million signatures overall — well over the ~630,000 needed.
If it doesn’t get on the ballot or doesn’t pass, then the likely next steps would be for Uber and Lyft to continue to try to fight the AB5 law by using the arguments they’ve laid out in the past — namely, that AB5 doesn’t pertain to them because their drivers are not the core of their business and therefore do not have to reclassify them as employees.
Should Drivers Add Their Signatures?
That’s up to you, California drivers and voters. What do you think?
This law would guarantee your right to be an independent contractor, and would add a few perks compared to what you’ve known from the past. Read through the proposed law and see if it’s a good fit for you. And if you want to add your signature, you can do so right here.
Would you support something like PABDASA, even if you’re not a California driver? What are your predictions for this initiative – will it make it on the November 2020 ballot in California?
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-Paula @ RSG