Automotive > Connected Mobility Blog

Uber Drivers Sue Uber over Prop 22

by Roger Lanctot | 10月 27, 2020

While millions of workers around the world have lost their jobs and thousands of companies have disappeared in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a handful of tech giants have pocketed billions of dollars adding to their power and influence over the economy and their workers and consumers. Perhaps the most naked exercise of that power and influence is the richly financed campaign on behalf of Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates, and others to prop up Proposition 22, a ballot measure in California which will exempt these so-called gig economy employers from treating their workers as employees.

I was already aware of the battle underway on the West Coast, but it found its way into the palm of my hand in Northern Virginia two weekends ago when I needed a Lyft to go pick up a rental car. After requesting my ride the app let me know that my Lyft would have a partition - which was good news - but it also informed me that drivers support Proposition 22 4-1 because it will allow them to remain independent contractors, work flexible hours, receive benefits, and keep rides affordable.

I thought it odd that I should receive this message in Northern Virginia, especially when I am aware that drivers are actually profoundly ambivalent about the current legislation in California (AB 5) which is already in effect requiring gig employers to treat their workers as employees. A group of Uber drivers has sought to remove that ambivalence now that Uber and Lyft have begun inserting the pro-Proposition 22 message in the app.

The Washington Post reports that the lawsuit "alleges Uber has engaged in illegal political coercion by issuing repeated warnings to drivers in the app about the consequences if Prop 22 fails. One screenshot posted to social media shows drivers are prompted with a message reading “Prop 22 is progress,” touting the health-care and earnings changes it would usher in. Drivers have to click through the prompt, answering either “Yes On Prop 22” or “OK” to proceed.

"According to the lawsuit, Uber informed workers that 72 percent of drivers and delivery people said they plan to vote yes on Prop 22. The figure, the lawsuit alleges, “is false and misleading because it suggest[s] that 72% is an accurate, unbiased figure, when it fact it is the consequence of the many pressures to conform to Uber’s preferred position.” The lawsuit also alleges Uber could monitor the survey answers and use them to favor drivers who supported Prop 22."

The in-app badgering is part of a $180M pro-Proposition 22 campaign (ergo anti-AB 5) intended to allow Uber and Lyft to circumvent the new legislation which went into effect earlier this year. In fact, multiple court rulings have supported the legislation against challenges from the likes of Uber and Lyft, both of which have threatened to leave the state if forced to comply with the legislation.

Uber's and Lyft's cynical campaigns have brought out the voices and forces of organized labor that have pointed to the Proposition 22 fight as a turning point in the battle for worker's rights. If Proposition 22 passes, they argue, it will mark the beginning of the end of the labor movement and a turn toward a benefit-free gig-based economy characterized by contract workers lacking any legal protections.

The fact that Uber and Lyft would insert insidious and misleading messages into their apps tells you all you need to know. They are more interested in manipulating drivers and passengers than they are in serving the public, creating a safe workplace, or tending to worker or human rights.

A vote against Proposition 22 - in California - is a vote against all of the aggregation of money, power, and influence that has accelerated since the onset of COVID-19. It is one small way to draw a line in the sand against a rising tide of consumer and labor abuse. No inexpensive taxi ride is worth a compromise in human rights or human dignity.

Previous Post: Hyundai: Coherent Mobility Strategy | Next Post: Uber's Proposition 22 Movement Must be Stopped

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