Gig workers sue to overturn Prop 22


California gig workers and union leaders are suing to overturn Proposition 22, a state ballot initiative passed in November that designated them as independent contractors instead of full-time employees eligible for benefits and protections.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in the California Supreme Court by drivers for app-based ride hailing and delivery services such as Uber, Lyft and DoorDash.

Drivers argue that Proposition 22 is unconstitutional because it limits the Legislature's ability to grant workers the right to organize and excludes drivers from being eligible for workers' compensation.

“The law as written by Uber and Lyft denies drivers rights under the law in California and makes it nearly impossible for lawmakers to fix these problems” said SEIU California President Bob Schoonover. “It’s an attack on California’s rights, that if left unchecked will grant permission to companies like Uber and Lyft to dismantle workers’ rights across the country.”

The measure passed in November was the most expensive in state history, with supporters spending $187.5 million dollars in advertising. The biggest donors were Uber ($52 million), Lyft ($49 million), DoorDash ($48 million) and Instacart ($28 million) according to the LA Times.

“It sets a precedent that any right can be rolled back just by spending enough money,” said Schoonover.

Uber and Lyft have long claimed that drivers should be considered independent contractors because they choose their own hours. Uber said that paying additional benefits to drivers would be prohibitively expensive and force them to either raise their rates or stop service in California.

Prop 22 did include some additional benefits for drivers, and some app-based services have already begun raising their rates as a result.

In a statement, the Yes on 22 coalition called the lawsuit "meritless" and said it does not expect the courts to undo the will of the voters.

Drivers have asked the California Supreme Court for an expedited ruling, which could come in a matter of weeks.