Meet the Lobbyists Hired to Repeal CA Worker Rights Bill

November 17, 2019

In late 2019, the California legislature passed Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), a bill designed to ensure that all workers are paid fairly, by preventing companies from inappropriately classifying their workers as independent contractors

Under the new law, a DoorDash driver, for example, would be entitled to the same minimum wage and mileage reimbursement given to pizza delivery employees for Domino’s or Papa John’s. 

DoorDash, Uber, and Lyft have pledged $90 million to take their case directly to California voters, asking them to repeal AB5. The gig economy companies have used some of their money to hire a lobbyist firm, Nielsen Merksamer.

The same lobbying firm, according to their own website, lobbied against smoking restrictions and rent control in the 1970’s and 80’s. Recently, they say they were hired to oppose Measure Z in Oakland, an initiative to incentivize hotels to provide health insurance to their workers and pay a $15 per hour minimum wage. Despite the firm’s efforts, the Oakland measure passed by a margin of 3-to-1, reports New York Times. 

The University of Southern California also recently hired the same lobbyist firm to help limit USC’s liability to sexual abuse victims of former USC doctor, Dr. George Tyndall, reports the Daily Trojan.

The lobbyists have already drafted the app companies’ ballot initiative. They call it the “Protect App-Based Drivers & Services Act” (PABDSA). According to an analysis posted on Y Combinator, the proposal would do more than just repeal AB5; it would also implement a “broader wish list” of items desired by the on-demand app companies. 

According to DoorDash, they plan to place PABDSA on the November 2020 ballot.

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