Gig Worker Prop 22 passed in California – now what?
Drivers and other workers for so-called gig economy companies in California will not become their employees, the New York Times reported.
“California voters carried Uber and Lyft to victory, overwhelmingly approving Proposition 22, a ballot measure that allows gig economy companies to continue treating drivers as independent contractors,” said the report.
The news follows Uber, Lyft and the delivery service DoorDash designing the measure to exempt the companies from a state labour law that would have forced them to employ drivers and pay for health care, unemployment insurance and other benefits. As a concession to labour advocates, the initiative offers a wage floor and limited benefits to drivers.
With 59 million Americans freelancing, the future of freelance work is a key concern for these workers as the US presidential election hangs results in the balance at the time of writing.
As previously reported by The Freelance Informer, Democrat Presidential candidate, Joe Biden, has expressed support for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act on his campaign website, which could be bad news for the majority of US freelance workers.
It is expected that Biden will revisit the legislation further, despite the Prop 22 vote. However, the lumping of all contractors into one pool does not sit well will those not working in the app-based gig economy.
PRO Act – could it backfire on freelancers?
The PRO Act would use the same three-pronged ABC test as California’s AB-5 law to decide who is a freelancer nationwide and so far makes it harder for freelancers to work for businesses in their industry, CNBC has reported.
At the US-based Freelancers Union, executive director Rafael Espinal has expressed that an educational exercise is required before any grand policies are indoctrinated in regards to how freelancers’ livelihood will be affected if the PRO Act moves forward as written.
Although the group’s membership leans Democrat, Espinal says many freelancers generally don’t feel represented by either party, reported CNBC.
According to the CNBC report, AB-5 had to be modified repeatedly after taking effect on Jan. 1, 2020, because it was putting so many other types of freelancers out of work.
The majority of freelancers are not rideshare drivers, but Biden and AB-5 could be lumping them into this group if he is not careful and in the end, stifle the ability for 35% of the US workforce to be individually assessed as contractors or employable by clients.
According to news reports coming out of the US, freelancers are scared for their livelihoods and while they may not agree with all of President Donald Trump’s policies, they may have felt forced to vote for Trump solely on the grounds that he does not openly support the PRO Act and has a more flexible stance on the classification of contractors. The latest contractor test by the US Department of Labor under the current administration can be found here, which gives you an idea of where Trump stands – for now.
The majority of self-employed or freelancers in the US do not want to unionise and do not want to pay union fees, that could change under a Biden presidency, which for some is hard to consider as supporters of the Biden-Harris campaign.
“The B-prong of the test says that to be considered a contractor, a worker must perform work that is outside of the usual course of business for the hiring company — making it harder or impossible for many freelancers to work for clients in their own industry. Similar measures have been considered in other states, including New York and New Jersey, so far unsuccessfully,” stated the CNBC report.
If freelancers want their voices heard they need to act fast and write to the Biden-Harris campaign – their livelihoods and the US economy depend on it.
A good place to start is on Joe Biden’s Twitter page: @JoeBiden