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Uber and Lyft Drivers Denounce Companies' Campaign to Keep Them Contractors

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Uber driver Rebecca Stack-Martinez speaks at a press conference outside Uber's headquarters in San Francisco on June 18, 2019. (Sonja Hutson/KQED)

Uber and Lyft drivers denounced the companies' efforts to keep them classified as independent contractors, rather than employees, at a press conference Tuesday.

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The California Supreme Court ruled last year that businesses must satisfy three guidelines to classify workers as contractors. The Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court decision would make it much harder for Lyft and Uber to continue classifying their drivers as contractors.

Since then, there's been a battle in the state Capitol over who should be classified as contractors. Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez authored AB 5, which would codify that California Supreme Court decision.

Lyft and Uber have joined the I'm Independent Coalition, which is pushing for the legislature to suspend the application of the Dynamex ruling, and instead give independent contractors benefits like paid vacation days, a drivers association and more transparency on earnings.

"Reclassification misses two important points: First, most drivers prefer freedom and flexibility to the forced schedules and rigid hourly shifts of traditional employment; and second, many drivers are supplementing income from other work," Uber and Lyft executives Dara Khosrowshahi, Logan Green and John Zimmer wrote in an op-ed last week. "It’s also no secret that a change to the employment classification of ride-share drivers would pose a risk to our businesses."

Some drivers, however, don't think that the companies will follow through on those promises.

"They've had how many years to figure that out," said Annette Rivero, who drives for Lyft and Uber primarily in San Jose. "They just haven't proven themselves and I just don't think that they're going to do anything for us. They're going to continue to do what they do for themselves."

Lyft and Uber have reached out to their drivers, asking them to take action on the proposed changes.

Lyft sent an email to its drivers encouraging them to contact their local lawmaker. Uber sent a petition through the app opposing changes to drivers' classification.

"We don't need them to send vague misleading information to sign petitions against AB 5 through their app," said driver Rebecca Stack-Martinez. "Drivers can speak for themselves."

Uber said in a statement that drivers were not required to support the petition in order to access the app.

Stack-Martinez and other drivers plan to hold more protests through the summer as AB-5 makes its way through the state Senate.


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