Drivers for ridesharing apps like Uber are reportedly saying that working conditions remain poor after voters passed California’s Proposition 22, essentially exempting the companies from labor laws. Together with the delivery apps couriers, the workers are claiming that not only have poor working conditions persisted, but pay has decreased despite prices for the consumer going up.
Many drivers and labor groups originally opposed Prop 22, claiming it would allow companies to sidestep their obligations to provide benefits and standard minimum wages to their workers. However, the measure eventually passed at the ballot box with 58.63% of voters in favor.
Peter Young, a rideshare driver for four years in Los Angeles, told the Guardian: “It’s clear that as soon as Prop 22 passed, it was open season to start cutting my pay again. I’m looking for other work. I can’t keep doing this at this pay. I’m doing food delivery right now. Everyone is ordering food online so there’s demand. It’s just that what they are choosing to pay me isn’t reliable any more and it’s getting lower.”
After Prop 22 passed, Young claimed incentives offered by the app companies to drivers ahead of the Prop 22 vote disappeared, and he has experienced cuts to his base pay amid unreliable fluctuations. “If you try to earn money, just purely on the delivery fee, it comes out to about $5 an hour. A good day for me is maybe earning $100 before gas and expenses off eight hours of work,” Young explained.
Had Prop 22 not passed, the app companies would’ve had to abide by AB5, which required them to classify its workers as employees instead of independent workers. Among many other things, they would’ve had to provide their workers with minimum wage and health benefits. As of Jan. 2021, the minimum wage in California is $14 an hour, and $13 an hour for employers with less than 25 employees. Before Prop 22’s passage, Uber, Lyft, and other gig companies refused to comply with AB5 and even threatened to shut down operations in California at one point if they were forced to do so.
Ben Valdez, who has worked part-time as an Uber driver in Los Angeles for five years and works two to three days per week, 12 to 15 hours per day, currently makes about $150 per day before expenses. “I’ve had maybe three or four nights where I literally made $4,” he said. Because of the pandemic, Valdez said he has had to pay for things like face masks and other personal protective equipment out of his own pocket and built his own protective partition in his vehicle out of a shower curtain — something that would’ve been provided to him by the company had Prop 22 failed to pass.
Valdez said he was under the impression that he would be earning an additional $0.30 per mile after Prop 22’s passage. But per Uber’s metrics, he hasn’t received that extra compensation because his pay exceeds their calculation of 120 percent of minimum wage.
A study by the University of California, Berkeley, from Oct. 2019 found Prop 22 guarantees a minimum wage of $5.64 an hour, as only engaged time is accounted for in the wage calculations.
Authored by Uber, Lyft, Instacart, and DoorDash, Prop 22 went into effect in mid-Dec. 2020 after an aggressive public relations campaign of more than $200m launched by the companies — making it the most expensive ballot measure in California’s history.
As aforementioned, despite their win at the ballot box, several gig apps like Uber and DoorDash announced fees for customers in California would increase to cover the costs of Prop 22 driver benefits, even after several of the apps claimed prices would hike if Prop 22 didn’t pass.