Tuesday morning, Uber, Lyft and Doordash announced that they’d be launching a $90 million ballot measure campaign to roll back the hard fought rights that we won through AB5. This is par for the course for these companies who have spent their entire existence exploiting loopholes to get out of following the rules.
Uber, Lyft and Doordash are very clear about who they are and what they want. They are exploiters who create poverty in pursuit of profit. While these companies bring in billions of dollars, drivers are making less than minimum wage, getting trapped in predatory leases and being disposed of whenever these companies feel like it.
Their newest ploy, the so-called Protect App-Based Drivers and Services Act, would give them the ability to write their own regulations into California law. Rather than respect the will of our elected leaders who passed and signed AB5, they want to spend their ill-gotten money on writing their own rules.
Like always, the companies are making big promises, but with plenty of strings attached. We took a look at their “fact” sheet and the language of the initiative itself and broke down exactly why this is a bad deal for drivers.
Company Deception #1: Flexibility
Ever since AB5 was introduced, Uber and Lyft have been threatening to take away our so-called flexibility. AB5 does nothing to change flexibility. Any time a Silicon Valley exec or one of their mouthpieces talks about flexibility it is a threat to drivers. They’re saying, “If you stand up for yourselves, we’ll take away your flexibility.” There is no reason that drivers, with employee status, could not continue to work “on-demand” and, in fact, the gig company business model relies on this kind of driver availability to function.
Company Deception #2: Wage & Benefit Guarantees
The companies say their law would ensure drivers make at least 120% of minimum wage, with no limits.
In LA County, the minimum wage is $14.25/hr, 120% of that is $17.10. Deduct expenses from $17.10 and you’re still being paid under minimum wage! This is why we’ve been fighting for at least $30/hr minimum. Additionally, this “earnings guarantee” only applies during “engaged time” – which doesn’t include time waiting for a ride – and does include incentives and other bonuses.
The companies claim their new law would provide 30 cents per mile for expenses such as gas and vehicle wear and tear.
The federally mandated per-mile rate for employees is 58 cents per mile, so the company proposal already falls short of existing law. Even more egregiously, this per-mile pittance would not apply if you lease your vehicle from the company!
Company Deception #3: Benefits & Insurance
The company claims that it will provide healthcare to drivers through a stipend that would allow them to purchase ACA plans and that this would apply to drivers working 15 hours a week. The companies say that drivers who work 25 hours per week or more will earn an amount equivalent to 82% of a Covered California Bronze plan.
A stipend is not the same as employer-provided health insurance and this model passes all of the headache inducing parts of finding healthcare coverage onto the driver. The stipends are also only available to drivers who drive at least 15 hours a week in a calendar quarter. Furthermore, by providing only 82% of a bronze plan to full time workers, the companies are still forcing taxpayers to subsidize 18% of the healthcare costs for their employees. A Covered CA Bronze plan only pays, on average, 60% of your medical expenses and includes a $12,600 family deductible and $15,600 family out-of-pocket maximum. This is far from affordable or complete coverage and is unacceptable for companies that bring in hundreds of billions of dollars.
Occupational Accidental Insurance, Disability Payments and Accidental Death Insurance
The companies claim that their law will expand insurance protections for drivers.
The occupational accidental insurance, disability payments, and accidental death insurance protections they’re offering include the time that a driver is “online,” or when they are “utilizing a network company’s online-enabled application or platform and can receive requests,” meaning that coverage would theoretically extend beyond just when passengers are in the car. However, those benefits will not be provided in the event that an accident occurs “while online but outside of engaged time where the injured app-based driver is in engaged time on one or more other network company platforms or where the app-based driver is engaged in personal activities.” This allows the company to refuse coverage if they claim that you were doing personal activities while waiting to pick up a passenger.
The liability insurance policy they’re promising is already required by Article 7 of Division 2 of the Public Utilities Code.
Company Deception #4: Harassment & Discrimination Protection
The companies’ anti-discrimination policy is pulled directly from the State’s Unruh Civil Rights Act. However, they just altered the order of protected classes and conveniently excludes the following as being protected from discrimination: citizenship, primary language, and immigration status.
The Biggest Company Deception: Uber & Lyft Executives Know What’s Best for Drivers
Time and time again, Uber, Lyft, Doordash and the rest of the so-called gig companies have proven that they do not care about their drivers. They never have and the only reason they’re trying to play nice is because we stood up for ourselves and flexed our muscle with AB5. At the end of the day, the boss should not be trying to make these decisions for us. The only way toward a business model that works for everyone – drivers and users included – is with a strong, driver-led union that can negotiate for real living wages, real benefits and protections and real flexibility. DO NOT SIGN THEIR PETITION. Instead, join the more than ten thousand Mobile Workers Alliance drivers and fight for a union!
The Real Fact Sheet:
You’ve probably already seen the boss’s “fact sheet” about this initiative. We’ve taken the liberty of marking it up to make it more accurate. Please feel free to download and share widely.