The passage of Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) signals a major victory for independent contractors and gig-economy workers across California. The law restricts when companies can classify workers as independent contractors. Signed by Governor Gavin Newson in September, 2019, AB5 has the potential to secure a guaranteed minimum wage, mileage reimbursement, worker’s compensation, and paid sick leave for the drivers of app-based companies, such as Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash.
The efforts of labor groups representing rideshare company drivers, like Rideshare Drivers United, were key to passing the bill into law, according to Shareable. Nicole Moore, a member of LA-based Rideshare Drivers United Organizing Committee, spoke to Shareable about the grassroots movement that succeeded in putting AB5 on the legislative agenda. The organization worked with labor groups, trade unions, and lawmakers to raise awareness for drivers and generate political support for AB5. “I think our strikes were essential to changing public opinion about what’s really going on with these companies, and that adds to the pressure that all lawmakers and policy makers feel when they look at a law like this,” Moore said. “The fact that drivers said ‘we deserve employee rights’ and continue to organize and take action on those issues is why AB5 was able to actually pass,” Moore told Shareable.
Rideshare companies have attempted to thwart these efforts by seeking to delay implementation of AB5. They put together a last-ditch effort to exempt themselves from the new law. Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash have also pledged $90 million to overturn AB5 with a ballot initiative in 2020. Uber said it was pursuing the ballot measure as a “last resort,” according to reporting by the Los Angeles Times.
The planned ballot initiative would override AB5 and exempt rideshare drivers from the protection of most of California’s employment laws. For groups like Rideshare Drivers United, this last-ditch attempt by the industry comes as no surprise. Generally, drivers remain skeptical about the proposals by rideshare companies to create an alternative employment category for gig workers, reports the Los Angeles Times. For them, the fight over AB5 is not yet over.