Thursday, January 28, 2021

Uber and Lyft’s gig work law could expand beyond California

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In November, concert companies including Uber, Elevator, DoorDash and Instacart helped pass California Proposition 22, effectively draft their own labor law. Now companies plan to pass similar legislation elsewhere.

Last month, companies launched a group called the App-Based Work Alliance to support their program. Industry-funded bills being drafted in New York and Illinois, like the California voting measure, would deny employee status at concerts, as well as compensation for workers, paid family leave, sick pay, unemployment insurance and the minimum wage guarantees that come with it.

But the bills could give construction workers the right to form something akin to a union, allowing workers to negotiate with multiple employers to create wage levels and standards. American trucking, auto manufacturing and grocery workers have been involved in industry-wide types of negotiations, although the arrangement is more common in Europe.

The scheme –first floated in California in 2019– has divided union supporters. Some union allies say allowing workers to organize would give them a much-needed seat at the table, in an industry where work and wages are dictated by an algorithm and access to ‘bosses’ – the companies that pay their wages. – is hard to find. Acquiring the right to bargain collectively, these people say, is a vital first step in making low-wage, high-turnover employment fairer.

Others say that allowing concert companies to continue to treat their workers as independent contractors is wrong. Legislation giving workers the right to a union without employment status would in effect be an official government stamp for corporate concert business models, “in which lower-income workers do not have access to benefits. basis of the safety net, ”says Veena Dubal, professor of labor law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

Some Californian drivers warn others of the drawbacks of compromising with concert companies. “We’re absolutely against anything that puts us in second-class worker status,” says Nicole Moore, ride-sharing driver and organizer for Rideshare Drivers United, a workers’ advocacy group based in California. “That is why we say that employment rights are not negotiable.”

The measure of the ballot in California, called Proposition 22, was written by concert companies, which then invested $ 205 million to support it, the costliest campaign in state history. He knocks down a 2019 law known as AB 5, which clarified the status of independent contractors in the state. Now, companies in concert do not have to contribute to public unemployment insurance for their workers and do not need to provide benefits like health care. Instead, for California workers who qualify by driving or delivering a certain number of hours per week, the companies say they will provide a healthcare subsidy and guarantee a minimum wage for the hours spent at. drive or pick up passengers (but not for hours spent waiting for a fare).

Proposition 22 is almost irreversible[…]the law needs a “supermajority” of seven-eighths of the state legislature to be changed.

At the same time, concert societies have invested in taking the fight against Proposition 22 elsewhere. Lyft has created a political action committee called the Illinoisans for freelance work spent at least $ 660,000 on the purchase of advertisements and political contributions to local elections. In August, Uber released a white paper outlining her plans for “independent entrepreneur +”, a new job category she hopes to promote across the country.

Now New York, a less-than-traditional concert market in many ways, is expected to be among the first states where a post-Proposition 22 battle could unfold. A constellation of gig companies and allies on Monday introduced the New York Self-Employment Coalition, which describes its mission as “protecting the independence and flexibility of independent application-based contractors while striving for their provide the necessary benefits ”. But the state’s relatively favorable climate for work means that concert companies will have to exercise caution – and a pitched battle is likely.

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