Prop 22 Asks: Should App-Based Drivers Be Classified as Contractors Instead of Employees? (Transcript)

Sam Harnett [00:05:17] So that means if you’re driving for Uber and let’s say you don’t get a ride for an hour, well, you don’t get paid for that hour of driving around even though you were working. So that’s like a really important kind of distinction. And I guess, the thing with Proposition 22 is, it’s all – it all gets very complicated in the details, but basically, if you look at the package, it’s going to guarantee a slight improvement to the benefits and protections for the contractors, but it’s far short of what you’d get in employee status.

Olivia Allen-Price [00:05:42] Could other industries be impacted if this passes.

Sam Harnett [00:05:45] It creates this sort of third category that you can bet that corporations are going to go for because they can see a way to make money. And if you remember, Uber and Lyft, you know, started the gig app trend, but Instacart, PostMates, DoorDash, all these companies followed Uber and Lyft by creating apps to create more jobs that were contractor and not employee. So, you can bet that a lot of other industries, if they can figure out a way, you know, if trucking can get on an app, you know, maybe there’s a way to have warehouse workers work through an app. This opens the door for more companies to try to find ways to fit this model because contractors are way cheaper than employees.

Olivia Allen-Price [00:06:24] Now, what are these companies like Uber, Lyft, Instacart, DoorDash, etc., what are their arguments for why people should vote for 22?

Sam Harnett [00:06:32] I’d say their primary argument is: This will allow us to keep operating as we were operating. It’s basically a pitch to consumers saying, hey, you know, you liked Uber and Lyft and Instacart and DoorSash. The second argument they make is, you know, listen, people need work right now, and so you can get work through these apps. We just want to give people work. And it’s not our fault that America doesn’t have a real safety net. It’s not our fault that it’s really hard to make it in this country, even if you’re working full-time. The anti side is saying, listen, if you allow these corporations to provide this kind of subpar, substandard work, you’re going to erode more of the good jobs that we do have. And you’re going to see more and more companies following Uber, Lyft, Instacart down this app route, which means you’re going to have more inequality and you’re going to have less good jobs.

Olivia Allen-Price [00:07:14] I’ve seen a lot of arguments that these companies will stop operating in California if this law doesn’t pass. Is that a risk here?

Sam Harnett [00:07:22] Well, Uber definitely made it clear that they would temporarily pull out of California. But it’s important to remember that Uber, Lyft and other gig companies have threatened to leave whenever they didn’t like a regulation in multiple cities and states across the country. In Austin, in New York City, in Chicago and Seattle, and they always came back. In all of those cases, Uber and Lyft would temporarily leave until the regulation was changed back in their favor and then they return.

Sam Harnett [00:07:48] Now, if you look at California, you know, I think what, Olivia, we’re like the fifth biggest economy in the world. Right? The idea that they would pull out of California forever, it just doesn’t seem very feasible, given how big of a market that they are now.

Olivia Allen-Price [00:08:01] Sort of another sort of, I guess, argument that I’ve seen out there is not just, OK, we might pull out of California, but also if we have to make everyone employees, fewer people will be able to drive for us because of the additional cost of making them employees. Could we see drivers potentially lose out on opportunity here if this were to fail?

Sam Harnett [00:08:24] Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, shifting to employee status is definitely gonna force them to change their business model. They’re going to have to do things a little differently, and that might mean they have fewer drivers who then drive more hours. And so some very casual drivers might lose out.

Olivia Allen-Price [00:08:39] Drivers using these apps come down on both sides of Prop 22. Supporters are worried that becoming employees could ultimately take away their flexible work schedules or cause job losses. They also say rates could go up for consumers and service could disappear from lower profit regions. Drivers voting against Prop 22 want the protections that they would get as an employee. They argue a company shouldn’t get to write their own labor laws. They also point out that Prop 22 would be difficult to amend or overturn, requiring a 7/8 vote in the California state legislature or another proposition on a feature ballot.

Olivia Allen-Price [00:09:19] The campaign financing on this one is bonkers. What does the money situation look like?

Sam Harnett [00:09:23] Right. So on the pro side, I mean, the people who want this proposition, it’s mainly the gig companies. Over 181 million dollars. The most on a California proposition. And if you’re watching TV right now, you’re probably seeing the ads. I mean, they are flooding the airwaves. On the against side, it’s mostly labor, and they’ve got about 10 million dollars. So it’s an 18 to 1 disparity between the funding.

Olivia Allen-Price [00:09:47] Well, Sam Harnett, KQED, Silicon Valley reporter, thanks.

Sam Harnett [00:09:50] Thanks, Olivia.

Olivia Allen-Price [00:09:52] To put a cap on this one, a vote yes says you think app based driving services should be treated differently from other industries and be allowed to classify their workers as independent contractors rather than employees. A no vote means you think app based driving services should follow the regulations set out by our existing law.

Olivia Allen-Price [00:10:14] Bay Curious Prop Fest is produced by Katrina Schwartz, Rob Speight, Katie McMurran and me, Olivia Allen-Price, with a huge assist from the entire KQED newsroom. Our show is made in San Francisco at member supported KQED. We’ll be back tomorrow with an episode on Prop 23, the dialysis prop. See you then.

Source Article