Californians will decide the fate of companies including Uber, Lyft, and Instacart in their state this week as they consider the ballot measure Proposition 22. Proposition 22 will determine whether workers at app-based transportation companies are classified as independent contractors or employees.

Maria Figueroa, director of labor and policy research at Cornell University’s Worker Institute, says the vote will test the awareness of the need for employment rights of app-based workers in California, as well as the effectiveness of platform companies’ expensive advocacy campaign.


Figueroa says:

“A yes vote on Proposition 22 will exempt the platform companies from compliance with California’s law AB5, which requires the application of a strict test for companies to show that workers are independent contractors.

“Platform companies have made significant investment in promoting support for this ballot initiative because their business model relies on the labor-cost savings derived from classifying app-based drivers as independent contractors. Such cost savings result from not being required to pay unemployment insurance, workers compensation and other benefits that employees must receive. 

“Key elements of the platforms’ campaign for Prop 22 have been the narrative that drivers value flexibility and individual entrepreneurship, and that the employment status would lead to higher operation costs resulting in job cuts for drivers and rising prices for consumers. The vote on Tuesday will test not only the effectiveness of the platform companies’ multi-million-dollar campaign, but also the level of California voters’ awareness about the need for labor and employment rights for app-based workers. So far, the race looks too close to call.”