Uber is Bullying Its Employees to Support California Proposition 22

Uber is Bullying Its Employees to Support California Proposition 22

The state of California has taken up the fight against technology companies that are employers of independent contractors — mainly Uber and Lyft — by a new law designed to give workers benefits available through a traditional employer.

Proposition 22 will give Uber drivers more benefits than what they are currently receiving. If the drivers decide to vote against Proposition 22, they will be classified as regular employees and receive company-paid health insurance.

Uber believes it is beneficial to their independent contractors to remain in their current state; they can work whenever they want. As an employee, they would lose this benefit, and Uber may make less money. Uber is competing against the Taxi industry by offering less expensive rides. Under the new employment model, Uber may have to lay off thousands of workers.

California Minimum Wage

A “no” vote on Proposition 22 would make app-based rideshare companies pay their employees the state’s minimum wage and give their employees health benefits. However, a “yes” vote would change a driver’s compensation. Independent contractors would have basic benefits.

For next year’s proposal, workers would receive the state’s minimum wage, which is $14, plus an extra 20% for the driver’s time. This would give the worker a base pay of $16.80 for 2021. But, keep in mind, only 2/3 of a driver’s time is spent driving. The rest of a driver’s time is spent waiting around for the next gig. Waiting time would be paid at $0. The mileage rate would be reimbursed at less than the state’s minimum rate, which is $.30 per mile. Workers, who drive for at least 15 hours per week, would receive a stipend of $300 to purchase health insurance through the state’s exchange system.

Harassing Text Messages

Among other things, this upcoming election is crucial. Proposition 22 will be up for a vote, and Uber is pushing its political agenda hard. Recently, the company has been bombarding its drivers’ phones with nagging text messages every time they log into their devices.

On the Uber app, one message to the Uber drivers mentioned, “MADD says yes on Prop 22. Will you?”

James Leedom, an Uber driver said, “Can you stop sending political push notifications to my phone? We get it…you do not want to pay for your employees' livable wage or give them medical insurance.”

Uber has sent drivers other messages with additional warnings that it is not feasible to support Proposition 22. The messages normally have a tagline that mentions, Proposition 22 is in progress, and what will happen to the worker if he or she votes to keep things as they are. In no uncertain terms, Uber is stating that workers will lose their jobs if proposition 22 passes the legislature. Other messages include:

  • We may have to temporarily suspend ridesharing

  • We know you rely on Uber to earn

  • We hope we can continue operating

  • We remain committed to getting you access to new benefits with Prop 22

California Labor Law

Proposition 22, otherwise known as the Application-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies Initiative, was positioned to bypass the provisions in the California Assembly Bill 5.

California lawmakers had the option to recategorize independent contractors in the gig economy as workers of a company. The AB5 bill states that a company cannot categorize its workers as independent contractors if they are vital to fulfilling the core mission of the business.

Now, Uber is violating the California Labor Code for sections 1101 and 1102. It is against the law for an employer to influence its employees’ political inclinations.

The law prohibits employers from threats of discharge or “influence any employee’s free choice regarding whether to engage or refrain from engaging in any particular course or line of political action or political activity.”

Injunctive Relief

Therefore, plaintiffs filed a new class-action lawsuit in the Superior Court of California in the County of San Francisco. The case number is CGC-20-587266. The plaintiffs are Benjamin Valdez, Hector Castellanos, Chinese Progressive Association, and Worksafe. The defendants are Uber Technologies Inc. and Raiser LLC.

The plaintiffs are seeking injunctive and declaratory relief. They want Uber to stop their misleading practices and subverting employees’ political freedom. Also, they want Uber to stop misclassifying employees and threatening their wages and compensation.

For using deceptive practices to coerce employees to vote affirmative for Proposition 22, the plaintiffs are seeking compensation and penalties for more than $250 million.

A spokesperson for Uber has called the new lawsuit “absurd.” The class-action lawsuit was filed in disregard of the facts. Many of the workers support Proposition 22 because it will protect their way of living.

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