As California becomes one of the first states to take on Big Tech in the ongoing battle over the employment status of Uber and Lyft drivers, ridiculous driving companies are now working their political contacts to avoid complying to a law that has been on the books for almost a year.
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who ordered them to comply with California law, known as AB-5, which requires rideshare companies to classify their drivers as employees instead of independent contractors. The companies had threatened to shut down operations in the state rather than comply with the ruling. They now have an accelerated deadline for their appeals, which, at the unusual request of appellate judge PJ Pollack, will now be consolidated. Uber and Lyft have until August 25 to agree to the expedited procedures, and then until September 4 to file their opening briefs.
Both companies, but even more so Uber, have taken a “act first and ask for forgiveness” later approach when it comes to complying with international and local regulations. Now both are using all the political power they have amassed over the past few years to gain more time in this battle, in the hope that a voting measure in the upcoming November election known as the Proposition 22, will overthrow AB-5.
Businesses are spending millions of dollars fighting a law that will drive up their operating costs if they are forced to pay benefits to their drivers. Their threats to end their operations in the state have raised enough concerns to garner support in some corners. Late Wednesday, the mayors of San Jose and San Diego released a joint statement, saying they seriously feared nearly a million workers in California’s odd-job economy would lose their jobs if Uber and Lyft shut down their jobs. operations in the Golden State. They also played the pandemic card, claiming that many of these drivers are helping homebound elderly people and transporting patients seeking medical care. In their statement, they asked the appeals court to stay the injunction against the companies.
“The vast majority of drivers want to remain self-employed and are looking for solutions that protect their independence while providing an added benefit,” said Kevin Faulconer, Mayor of San Diego, and Sam Licardo, Mayor of San Jose, echoing the party line of business.
Additionally, Uber and Lyft – along with DoorDash – have spent at least $ 30 million each so far on Prop. 22, which would exempt them from AB-5. So, while the state introduced a new law that offers more protections to workers, the companies involved have done everything possible to make their share of the work as inexpensive and profitable as possible. Instead of bracing for a major change and making changes to their operations to accommodate the new law, they continued to fight it relentlessly.
The appeals judge, however, demands that the CEOs of both companies submit an affidavit, also by September 4, “confirming that he [the company] has developed implementation plans whereby if this tribunal upholds the preliminary injunction and Proposition 22 on the November 2020 ballot, fails. “
California is leading the way in these battles against Big Tech, from this fight with Uber and Lyft to the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) which is the FB of Facebook Inc.,
next nightmare, to a law requiring women on boards of directors. And last week, a new bill that would require racial diversity on boards of directors was passed by the Senate Committee on Banking and Financial Institutions.
Whether or not these efforts to rule the tech giants will succeed, it’s too early to tell, but it’s clear the rest of the United States is watching. The showdown between Uber and Lyft is an important battle in the war against Big Tech domination.