Tech giants like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash may soon be knocking on people’s doors, but it won’t be to deliver a meal or a ride. Instead, they will ask for help in their efforts to protect the knees of the workers they employ.
That’s what they did last year in a $ 200 million referendum campaign in California called Proposition (“Prop”) 22, which successfully enshrined their drivers’ status as ” independent contractors’ in this state.
In early August, the companies filed a similar voting initiative in Massachusetts. These gig economy goliaths are determined to ensure their workers are viewed as independent contractors. Indeed, under federal and state laws, employees are entitled to protections such as minimum wage, paid sick leave, safe workplaces, and unemployment, while independent contractors are not entitled to any benefits. these protections.
As a result, many companies mistakenly classify their employees as independent contractors, denying them their rights while avoiding the job-related payments they owe.
Unfortunately, the legal criteria for determining who is an employee and who is not vary from state to state and federal statute to law, and can be difficult to apply.
But a number of states have adopted the simple and user-friendly âABC testâ for employee status. It basically says that those who do the work that a company is primarily engaged in are employees, who are entitled to rights and protections.
In this test, the conductors of concerts, for example, are clearly employees. In fact, the Massachusetts Attorney General sued Uber and Lyft on precisely that basis; the case is pending. Therefore, the concert companies launched their voting initiative in Massachusetts, to replicate the surgical excision of Prop 22 of a large number of concert workers in employee status under the ABC test.
Many Californians believe they were tricked into voting âyesâ on Proposition 22. Uber and the rest have wrongly claimed that if their drivers and delivery people want flexibility, they can’t be employees. They also highlighted the benefits they would offer their âindependent contractorsâ under Proposition 22 (and the Massachusetts initiative): a guarantee of 120% of the state minimum wage, some payment for employees. health care benefits and some reimbursement for mileage.
But because these benefits are largely based on the hours and kilometers driven by drivers, many workers say they are illusory. In fact, an analysis from the UC-Berkeley Labor Center estimated that the Proposition 22 wage guarantee for Uber and Lyft drivers is actually equivalent to a wage of $ 5.64 per hour.
In 2019, the Federal Reserve reported that 58% of full-time workers said they would struggle to find $ 400 in an emergency.
Passage of the Federal Right to Organize Protection Act would help empower these workers, by including the “ABC test” in national labor relations law – expanding protections nationwide when workers act collectively. The same test for employee status should be adopted in other laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act. Federal legislative or regulatory changes like these would effectively replace the effect of Prop 22 and its clones.
But pending federal action, Uber and DoorDash are on the move. So if they come knocking with another Prop 22, tell them you’re not interested – because the table scraps they are offering aren’t the square meal their employees deserve.