Good morning, California. It’s Thursday, November 5.

Big loss for labor unions

Uber and Lyft’s $206 million campaign to defy all three branches of California government has paid off — to the tune of $10 billion.

That’s how much the gig companies’ valuations shot up after California voters approved Proposition 22 Tuesday night, exempting the rideshare giants from a state labor law requiring them to classify drivers as employees and provide benefits like unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation. The decision has massive national implications — Congress and numerous states are considering laws similar to California’s — and could drastically reshape the future of work, gig workers’ ability to unionize and business-labor relations.

Under Prop. 22, Uber and Lyft drivers will remain independent contractors, but are guaranteed 120% of minimum wage and partial health care subsidies — a combination of flexibility and benefits the companies say could herald a “third type” of worker.

  • Anthony Foxx, Lyft chief policy officer: “Prop. 22 is now the first law in the nation requiring health, disability and earnings benefits for gig workers. Lyft stands ready to work with all interested parties … to build a stronger safety net for gig workers in the U.S.”

Unions, however, say it creates a “second class” of workers and are exploring their limited legal options to challenge it, CalMatters’ Lauren Hepler reports. California, which has sued the gig companies multiple times for failing to reclassify their drivers, doesn’t seem to have many options either. Because Prop. 22 likely won’t become law until mid-December, and a state appeals court recently ordered Uber and Lyft to reclassify their drivers by January 2021, the state could seek to penalize the companies for a month or so of noncompliance.

But that’s not much of a consolation prize, given the companies haven’t complied with the labor law since it went into effect in January 2020.

  • Dennis Herrera, San Francisco’s city attorney: “For all too long, Uber and Lyft banked on the timidity of public officials throughout the country. They said: ‘We’re not going to ask permission. We’ll sort of ask for forgiveness after the fact, once the horse has left the barn.'”


The coronavirus bottom line: As of 9 p.m. Wednesday night, California had 940,010 confirmed coronavirus cases and 17,752 deaths from the virus, according to a CalMatters tracker.

Also: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. And we’re tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county.


1. Update on propositions

Voters line up at New Hope Church in Vacaville on Nov. 3, 2020. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Here’s a look at where California’s 12 propositions stood as of Wednesday night, when about 11 million of an estimated 16.5 to 17 million votes had been counted. Three measures passed and five failed, according to the Associated Press. Four have yet to be called.

Too close to call:

  • Prop. 14, bonds for stem cell research: 51.1% yes, 48.9% no
  • Prop. 15, raise commercial property taxes: 48.3% yes, 51.7% no
  • Prop. 19, property tax breaks: 51.5% yes, 48.5% no


  • Prop. 17, allow parolees to vote: 59% yes, 41% no
  • Prop. 22, gig-worker classification: 58.4% yes, 41.6% no
  • Prop. 24, expand data privacy law: 56.1% yes, 43.9% no


  • Prop. 16, reinstate affirmative action: 43.9% yes, 56.1% no
  • Prop. 20, expand criminal penalties: 37.7% yes, 62.3% no
  • Prop. 21, rent control: 40.2% yes, 59.8% no
  • Prop. 23, regulate dialysis clinics: 36.0% yes, 64.0% no
  • Prop. 25, eliminate cash bail: 44.6% yes, 55.4% no

Likely to fail:

  • Prop. 18, allow some 17-year-olds to vote: 44.9% yes, 55.1% no

2. Voters reject ‘tough on crime’ approach

Illustration by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters; Creative Commons; iStock; Twitter

By rejecting Prop. 20 — which would have expanded criminal penalties — and passing Prop. 17 — granting parolees the right to vote — California voters reasserted their commitment to a more lenient, less punitive approach to criminal justice, CalMatters’ Byrhonda Lyons and Ben Christopher report. Another indication that the winds of criminal justice are blowing in that direction: progressive prosecutor George Gascón beat out police-backed incumbent Jackie Lacey in the hotly contested Los Angeles district attorney race.

Harder to interpret, though, is the failure of Prop. 25, which would have replaced the cash bail system with an algorithm assessing whether a person should remain free while awaiting trial. But progressives were divided over the measure, with some saying it would eliminate a racist and classist system and others arguing it would enable racism in another form.

  • Phil Telfeyan of Equal Justice Under Law, which opposed both cash bail and Prop. 25: “I think Californians are wary … of the government exercising its power in an unfettered way, of the computerization of the justice system.”

3. Voters back taxes on high earners, police reform

Illustration by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters; iStock

Despite the pandemic punching a huge hole in California’s budget and historic protests against police brutality, the state Legislature shied away from raising taxes on millionaires and corporations and passing a series of ambitious police reforms this summer. California voters, by contrast, showed an appetite for such proposals on Election Day. Here’s a look at some of the key measures slated for victory:

  • With 65% voter approval, San Francisco became the first city in the nation to tax both private and public companies whose CEO makes 100 times more than the median worker.
  • In Los Angeles, 57% of voters support a measure to spend between $360 million and $900 million of county money on housing, mental health services, and communities disproportionally harmed by racism. Opponents say it will result in less funding for law enforcement.
  • In Oakland, more than 80% of voters back a measure to increase oversight of the city’s police force.
  • In San Francisco, more than 67% of voters support a measure to heighten oversight of the county sheriff department. Around the same amount of voters support a similar measure in Sonoma County.
  • In San Jose, more than 80% of voters support a measure to expand the review authority of the Independent Police Auditor.


CalMatters commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Although labor unions dominate the Democratic Party, which dominates California politics, they didn’t fare particularly well in this year’s ballot campaigns.

Fighting for the right ethnic studies curriculum: California’s ethnic studies curriculum must be changed to reflect the full diversity of the Jewish people, argue Eli Kia, a USC freshman, and Anna Maya, a San Diego high school student.

Importance of telehealth: Lawmakers need to recognize the benefits of digital technologies in the health care space, writes Danielle Hicks of the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer.

Other things worth your time

Newsom: Deluge of lobbying for Harris Senate seat ‘not something I’d wish on my worst enemy.’ // Politico

Newsom made it easy for Harris to decide which higher office to pursue. // San Francisco Chronicle

Affirmative action ballot measure failed, but these students are still fighting to diversify their California universities. // CalMatters

Newsom raises possibility of permanently mailing ballots to all voters. // Politico

Orange County district attorney investigates report of fake polling site. // Voice of OC

California, three other states sue to allow new immigrant applications to DACA program. // San Francisco Chronicle

California offered a lifeline when their hours were cut — then payments froze. // CalMatters

See you tomorrow.

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Emily Hoeven wrote the daily WhatMatters newsletter for three years at CalMatters . Her reporting, essays, and opinion columns have been published in San Francisco Weekly, the Deseret News, the San Francisco...