California lawmakers fight for Uber, Lyft workers

May 04 2021 05:30 pm

The battle between California lawmakers and major employers like Uber and Lyft is heating up.

A bill that could have a big impact on “gig” economy workers is moving forward, but not everyone’s on board.

Supporters of AB-5 crowded capitol hallways Wednesday. Dozens of Uber and Lyft drivers along with labor unions are urging lawmakers to pass the measure that would redefine many independent contractors as employees.

Those backing the bill say companies misclassify workers as independent contractors to get around minimum wage, overtime and workers compensation laws.

The bill’s author, Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez takes aim at the income inequality between gig company CEOs and their employees.

“The Lyft owner bought a $70 million home the day after a story ran about how many of the workers are sleeping in their cars, where is the compromise? They can sit here and say they care about their workers and they’d love to provide benefits, well they could’ve provided them with a lot more money. That we know, and they haven’t and they won’t unless we force them to,” Gonzalez says.

Still, several other groups also affected by AB-5, including the trucking industry, are against the measure.

Opponents worry the bill could hurt small businesses, start-ups and workers who enjoy having flexible schedules.

“I think it’s going to be a blow to our economy, I don’t know how new businesses are going to get started, most small businesses start on a shoestring,” says senator Mike Morrell of Rancho Cucamonga.

Although the bill passed 4-1 in the senate labor committee, lawmakers say a lot more negotiation and discussion needs to happen, especially with companies like Uber and Lyft.

“The idea they will go quietly into the good night is delusional on all of our parts, so I appreciate all of the conversations that are ongoing,” says senator Jerry Hill of San Mateo.

The bill now heads to the senate appropriations committee before it makes it to the senate floor.

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