Winter 2023-24

Public Beware!

Uber & Lyft Lies Hide the Truth – It’s Time to Retire Prop 22

By John Moody, RDU Volunteer and Los Angeles Driver
and Karen VanDenBerg, RDU Volunteer and San Diego Driver

Proposition 22 (Prop 22) is a hot topic among rideshare and delivery drivers right now as the California supreme court prepares to hear the case and make a ruling about whether or not it is constitutional. If the High Court decides it is not in conflict with the State Constitution, the law will stay as is. If they determine Prop 22 to be unconstitutional, it will be reversed. 

What every driver and citizen of California must remember is that Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and the rest will do whatever they can do (and they can afford to do a lot) to get the result they want. They fooled the voters once and we cannot allow ourselves to be intimidated by the twisted propaganda they churn out.

For example, the lawyers rely heavily on the argument that the people in the State of California voted for prop 22 - it is the will of the people.  And yes, it did get approved by the voters, mostly because they were misled and often deceived. 

The gig-giants threatened to write a ballot measure if they didn’t get their way through the legislature. They lobbied like bulldogs but they didn’t get their way – so they wrote a ballot measure and “Propaganda” 22 was born. The marketing plan: target the good-hearted with feel-good reasons to vote yes (it sure would appear). 

Combined, the gig companies spent a record breaking $225 million on ads to compel people in California to vote yes on Prop 22 – and it worked. However, 40% of the people who voted “yes” thought they were helping app drivers. And they are seeing the real effects of Prop 22 which is also impacting their pocketbooks.

We can expect the propaganda to ramp up significantly as the Supreme Court prepares to hear the arguments for and against Prop 22 being overturned. Be prepared to hear some of the same rhetoric we heard in 2020 as well as some new; they’ve already started with surveys, petitions, and ads; us drivers need to be aware of their propaganda and not endorse it, share it or comment. They are clever with their manipulation. They are bullying the riders, drivers, and legislators, and rubbing elbows with the courts. Be prepared.

Some examples of the lies and propaganda include:

Lie #1: Without Prop 22, workers would lose their ability to choose when and where they work as independent contractors. 

The Truth: Being an independent contractor is not the only way to have flexibility. Flexibility is completely compatible with employment rights. Many employees have flexibility and choose their own hours. Many employees are part time and intermittent workers.  It’s the technology - not the classification as employee or contractor - that allows flexibility.

Lie #2: If Prop 22 didn’t pass, rideshare companies threatened they “could” leave California and put thousands of workers out of work and disrupt transportation options for people who depend on rideshare. 

The Truth: This is just a threat to scare us away from demanding what we need. Other states have gone through similar attempts to increase pay and give drivers full rights, and the companies always threaten to leave. But they don’t. It turned out to be pure intimidation. NY and Seattle are great examples of this.

Messaging passengers received during the process of booking a ride.

Lie #3: The Companies advertised that Prop 22 was necessary to protect low prices for passengers and jobs for drivers. They claimed that prices would go up and service reliability would go down if Prop 22 didn't pass. 

The Truth: Prices went up for passengers anyway, and earnings dropped significantly for drivers. In fact, prices for riders increased 41% from October 2020 to September 2022.. Driver pay has been steadily decreasing most notably because Lyft and Uber are taking a higher percentage of the higher prices they are charging passengers. Drivers are getting less than half of every fare.

Lie #4: Benefits and Protections were promised for drivers as independent contractors (ICs) including financial support for healthcare, and compensation if hurt on the job. Under Prop 22 drivers were promised the ability to retain independence with their IC status and also receive benefits they would normally only receive as an employee. 

The Truth: Studies have shown that only 20% of drivers qualify for these Prop 22 healthcare benefits and only 10% receive them. As for the protection that would provide temporary financial support for injuries on the job, volunteers at Rideshare Drivers United haven’t run across a single driver who has received this compensation. 

Lie #5: The companies promised drivers would earn 120% of the minimum wage.

The Truth: This only includes the time  when you are actually driving someone or on the way to pick them up. It doesn’t count ANY wait time - only “engaged” time. Because about 40% of our time is wait time, when you include that time and consider our unreimbursed out of pocket expenses and the cost of lost benefits, we earn less than $7.00 per hour

Lie #6: Drivers were promised thirty cents for every mile to cover car expenses like oil changes, brakes, tires, gas, wear and tear, insurance riders–everything related to maintenance of driver vehicles.

The Truth: Like the "earnings guarantee," this only gets paid for engaged miles when there is a passenger in the seat, or when you are on your way to pick them up. Even the IRS recognizes that the cost of maintaining a car for business use is at least sixty-five and a half cents per mile. As an employee, drivers would be owed for ALL out-of-pocket expenses necessary to do the job (which includes depreciation of the car) on top of their regular pay.

Lie #7: Drivers were promised protection from discrimination and harassment.

The Truth: The “protection” is just a video. The protection is for passengers. Drivers don’t have their real name, there’s no background check for passengers, only drivers. And if drivers are harassed by a passenger, the primary solution offered by the companies is to say that they won’t pair them with the same rider again. 

Lie #8: The propaganda claimed that drivers want to stay misclassified as independent contractors. They said that drivers want to be their own boss and maintain their flexibility.

The Truth: Flexibility and independence are very important to drivers. But, drivers also know that they’re managed by a computer. Even if our boss is a Robot, drivers deserve full labor rights and protections like all employees in California receive as mandated by the constitution.

There is no evidence to support the claim that over 70% of drivers want to retain their independent contractor status. For drivers, the only advantage is flexibility which is completely controlled by the app and its programming.

Drivers definitely deserve better!

Without Prop 22 holding us hostage, we can organize and negotiate for better pay and get paid for every minute worked.

Without Prop 22 we will have critical labor protections and full reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses that are necessary for doing the job.

A safe and healthy workplace is standard in the United States of America, and every driver deserves respect and appreciation for the important, often dangerous) work we do.

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