A group of Uber and Lyft drivers in California filed a lawsuit Tuesday in the state Supreme Court to overturn a ballot measure allowing companies to continue treating their workers as independent contractors.
Drivers claim that Prop 22, which was the California voters approved it last November, Violates the state constitution by “stripping” the state legislature of workers’ ability to organize, and by excluding passenger car drivers “illegally” from the state’s workers compensation program.
“Every day, shared trip drivers like myself struggle to make ends meet because companies like Uber and Lyft prioritize corporate profits over our well-being,” prosecutor Saori Okawa said in a statement. “With Show 22, they are not only ignoring our health and safety – they are ignoring our state constitution. “
Drivers challenging the constitutionality of Show 22 are supported by labor unions such as SEIU and the California Workers Union, who opposed the measure in the run-up to the election to no avail.
But ultimately, labor was more spent and outmatched by companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash. Which has pumped in more than 200 million dollars In the campaign “Yes at 22” to exempt them from California law that requires them to treat their workers like employees. The companies strongly opposed the law, Arguing that it would eliminate driver flexibility, while increasing consumer prices and waiting times.
Law AB5 It represents an existential crisis For companies, none of which have ever made a profit, that have gone to costly efforts to develop autonomous technology in hopes of eventually replacing the entire drivers and delivery workers. In response, companies proposed a ballot that would keep their workers as contractors, while providing a few fringe benefits.
It is unclear how successfully the drivers canceled Show 22. The procedure was written in a way that would withstand future challenges, including a requirement that a seven-eighths majority of the state legislature be required for any amendment, and making sure that everything but impossible to revoke.
But drivers try to use this language to say Prop 22 has been illegal since its inception. Prosecutors note that the California constitution gives the legislature “unlimited” power to provide a workers compensation system, “such that this power cannot be restricted by legal initiative.”
“We look to the court asserting that gig companies cannot strip workers of their basic right to bargain for better wages and working conditions – and that companies alone should not dictate laws in our state,” said Bob Schoonover, president of SEIU Local 721. And the SEIU California State Council, in a statement.
There have been polling procedures that have been successfully canceled in California in the past, but mostly through additional polling procedures. If the lawsuit fails, the only recourse to the drivers and supporting unions to cancel Show 22 might be another ballot initiative.
Drivers are organizing caravans in San Francisco and Los Angeles in support of the lawsuit against Prop 22.