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Uber and Lyft circulate petition to stop CA bill that would give drivers labor protections

Uber and Lyft circulate petition to stop CA bill that would give drivers labor protections
Posted at 6:15 PM, Aug 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-30 00:15:45-04

Ride-share services like Uber and Lyft are offering up a compromise ahead of Friday's vote on a California bill to reshape the industry.

The two transportation technology services have started circulating petitions that push for legislators to stall Assembly Bill 5, which would give drivers labor protections afforded to employees.

In an email to people who use the service, Uber said it would change its policy to ensure drivers earn a minimum of $21 per hour while a passenger is in the vehicle and when the driver is on the way to a passenger.

Lyft also said it would increase wages and offer benefits, like Uber, but did not specify how much money drivers would be guaranteed for each ride.

In Paso Robles, Anthony Reed uses Lyft and Uber to make a little extra cash after working a full shift as a security guard at a local hospital.

"I'm off in the evening from my regular job and if I'm home by 11, there's Pappy McGgregors closing at 1 a.m.," Reed said. "It's just a good way for me to make more money and meet extra people."

Driving for Uber and Lyft over the past 18 months has afforded Reed financial freedom, but the earnings are not guaranteed.

"If there's nobody around, that means no money," Reed said. "That's part of the reason I kept my full-time job as well, because I know with that, it's full time and guaranteed."

Uber and Lyft drivers aren't guaranteed income, healthcare benefits or other labor protections. That's because ride-share drivers are considered contract workers, not employees.

"We want a fair share in this business and Uber and Lyft have to pay for that," Linda Valdivia, a San Francisco-based Uber driver, said at a Tuesday rally in San Francisco.

That sentiment was shared by other demonstrators who rallied for AB 5, which would deem people like Reed and Valdivia employees and entitle them to regulated wages and benefits.

"After that, we want to have our own union so we can be treated fairly," Valdivia said.

Included in the bill are exemptions for licensed insurance agents, salespersons, hairstylists and barbers, and some other select positions that are considered "free from direction or control." To be considered independent contractors under AB 5, the person must set their own rate and hours and must manage their own business book.

"The misclassification of workers as independent contractors has been a significant factor in the erosion of the middle class and the rise in income inequality," the bill's author wrote into AB 5.

Uber and Lyft oppose the bill, arguing that drivers prefer the flexibility and independence of contract work.

"Today, drivers work independently and decide when, where, and how much to drive," Uber said in a petition. "This means reliable and affordable rides available in more places when you need them most. "

Some ride-share drivers told KSBY they are against the law, which could change the flexibility of their schedule and location, but Reed supports the measure.

"In the long run, it would actually help me," Reed said.

The bill already passed an Assembly vote and is set for a Senate appropriations hearing on Friday.