California Proposition 22, which would exempt gig workers from state labor laws, has yielded a slew of lawsuits and advertisements, making it one of the costliest ballot initiatives in the state’s history.
In the lead-up to Election Day, gig companies have outspent labor groups by about $200 million to $19 million, according to an analysis by CalMatters. Should Prop. 22 fail, gig companies would be compelled to reclassify and pay contract workers like employees. Treating them as such would guarantee benefits such as overtime, sick leave, and expense reimbursement for workers who make up much of the gig economy.
Companies like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash have heavily bankrolled the “Yes on Prop. 22” campaign, having spent the money on TV and digital advertising as well as hiring consultants, lobbyists, and PR firms.
Opponents have argued that small businesses are required to provide a safety net for their workers and gig companies should be no exception.
"Uber, Lyft, Doordash, & Instacart have poured $204.5m into Prop 22 making it the most expensive initiative in California's history,” wrote William Fitzgerald, a spokesman for Gig Workers Rising. “They did this so that their workers wouldn't get sick days, a living wage or healthcare. Every small business in California has to pay towards providing a safety net for their workers but Uber's wealthy executives think the law doesn't apply to them and they can write their own law.”
Uber and Lyft – who have more than 400,000 drivers in California – have said if Proposition 22 fails, they would be forced to cut the number of workers and raise prices for riders.
Geoff Vetter, a spokesman for the initiative, told San Francisco's KQED last week that “it would be impossible to allow all 58 counties and 480-plus cities to establish separate requirements.”
“Prop. 22 establishes statewide standards for app-based driver scheduling, benefits,” he said.
Polls show California voters slightly more in favor of Proposition 22. At the close of stock trading on Monday, Uber and Lyft’s shares had risen 4.31% and 7.31% respectively, indicating investors were betting on the measure passing.