Uber, Lyft and DoorDash pledge $90M to fight California gig-worker law

Uber, Lyft and DoorDash threatened Thursday to spend $90 million to fight a proposed California law that would require the companies to treat their gig workers as employees, rather than contractors.

“We remain focused on reaching a deal, and are confident about bringing this issue to the voters if necessary,” Adrian Durbin, senior director of communications at Lyft, said in a statement.

As employees, workers are entitled to wage protections and benefits. The ride-sharing companies, however, contend that doing so would upend their business model, which is designed around driver flexibility.

If the ride-share companies are unable to reach a deal with California Gov. Gavin Newsom, unions and lawmakers to change the rights of their drivers, they plan to spend the $90 million on a ballot measure. However, the California Labor Federation, which sponsored the law, vowed to fight any countering ballot measure.

“We will meet the gig companies’ absurd political spending with a vigorous worker-led campaign to defeat this measure to ensure working people have the basic job protections and the right to organize a union they deserve under the law,” Steve Smith, the federation’s spokesman, said.

This isn’t the first time an industry has pressured lawmakers to act by dangling the prospect of a long and costly ballot fight. Last year, beverage companies, the paint industry and a wealthy developer all withdrew initiatives at the last minute after striking deals with lawmakers.

The legislation faces a vote Friday in a key state Senate committee. California’s law would be the strictest on worker classification in the nation and potentially set a precedent for other states to follow, increasing the pressure on the companies.

Proposed text for the ballot measure has not been released.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.