California’s Proposition 22 Would Save Jobs and Help Consumers. Legislators Won’t Listen.
A California appeals court ruled last week that Uber and Lyft must classify their drivers as employees instead of contractors, intensifying the pressure to pass a ballot measure that would allow them to keep the flexible business model that a majority of their workers say they prefer. That measure—Proposition 22—would exempt ride-hailing companies from A.B. 5, the legislation that strongarmed companies into transitioning gig-economy workers from freelance to employee status.
The latter comes with a slate of benefits, including health care, paid time off, compensation for expenses, and a minimum wage, among other perks. But A.B. 5 gave companies an incentive to lay off contractors, sparking a backlash among freelancers. Restrictions put in place for content creators, for instance, led to mass layoffs in journalism and marketing.
Those “were never good jobs,” insisted Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D–San Diego), the legislator behind A.B. 5. Workers pushed back on that. “The reality is it still falls primarily on women to be the caretakers and caregivers of their families, and freelancing allows women to be stay-at-home mothers or to care for an aging parent,” Alisha Grauso, an entertainment journalist and co-leader of California Freelance Writers United, told me last December. “Being made employees kills their flexibility and ability to be home when needed. I cannot stress enough how anti-women this bill is.”
Such workers were eventually granted an exemption from the law. A.B. 5 also had to exempt a slew of other professions, including hairstylists, real estate agents, insurance agents, lawyers, accountants, doctors, and dentists. (That list is not exhaustive.) If Proposition 22 passes, ride-s
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