Proposition 22: Gig worker benefits

The basics

What would Proposition 22 do?

Exempt gig companies like Uber and Lyft from a new state law requiring them to treat workers as employees. 

Since January, state law has required former contract workers in many industries to be classified as employees and offered benefits such as overtime pay, health care, paid sick leave, unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation. If this measure passes, companies that employ drivers through apps — among them, Lyft, Uber, DoorDash and Instacart — would instead keep workers classified as contractors and be able to offer narrower benefits, including pay at least 120% of minimum wage, health care subsidies and accident insurance.

Benefits under Prop. 22 would be tied to drivers’ “engaged time” completing passenger routes, excluding any wait time on apps between rides. The measure also includes consumer safety changes such as more driver background checks and zero tolerance for drug or alcohol violations. 

Why am I voting on this?

Gig companies were a primary political target of the new law, but they’ve fought state and city attorneys over whether they should have to comply. A Superior Court Judge ruled in August that Uber and Lyft must immediately switch to treating drivers as employees. That prompted the app companies to threaten “hundreds of thousands” of job cuts and the suspension of operations in California until voters decide the fate of Prop. 22. A shutdown was averted by an appellate court ruling, but that could change before Election Day with more court dates on the horizon.

The stakes are high in this bitter dispute between business and labor. If this proposition passes, any amendments would require a 7/8 supermajority — a longshot in the Legislature.

Supporters say

This is a business necessity for gig companies to continue offering drivers work on flexible schedules — and consumers on-demand rides at low prices. It’s also just a backdoor way for labor groups to try to unionize app drivers. Uber has said that up to 76% of its 209,000 California drivers could be cut if the company is forced to comply with the state’s stricter law, and that rider prices would increase 25-111% across the state.

Opponents say

Gig companies undermine job stability and exploit drivers, so their warnings about job cuts are overstated and designed to get regulators to back off. The pandemic is a prime example of why gig workers need the stricter state law, which gives them protections like paid sick leave and unemployment insurance. That’s a surer bet than relying on government intervention such as the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program made available to drivers through federal relief measures.

Who's for it:

  • Uber, Lyft, Instacart and Doordash

  • California Chamber of Commerce

  • California Police Chiefs Association

  • California NAACP

Who's against it:

  • The Democratic presidential ticket: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

  • Service Employees International Union

  • California Teachers Association

  • Gig Workers Rising, a driver advocacy organization

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Finances

How is this being bankrolled?

Major Donors in Support

  • Uber

  • Lyft

  • DoorDash

Major Donors in Opposition

  • Service Employees International Union and affiliated unions

  • United Food & Commercial Workers

  • International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a union representing delivery drivers

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