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Mobile Workers Alliance Applauds Blow to App-Based Misclassification in Uber and Lyft Ruling   

Los Angeles —San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman’s ruling today that Uber and Lyft must abide by the law and properly classify their drivers as employees is a major victory for not only Uber and Lyft drivers, but for all app-based workers and California taxpayers. The more than 18,000 Mobile Workers Alliance members applaud this step toward real labor protections for drivers.

“This is what we’ve been fighting for over the past two years,” Lyft driver and Mobile Workers Alliance organizer Mike Robinson said. “Any driver can tell you that we are obviously employees and we’re essential to the success of Uber and Lyft. We know it, the state legislature knew it when they passed AB5, and Judge Schulman has confirmed it today. It’s time for Uber and Lyft to give up their war on their own employees, drop their insulting ballot measure and begin providing us with the wages, healthcare and workers’ rights that we’ve earned.”

Uber and Lyft have ten days to appeal the decision. The companies, along with Doordash and Postmates, are also bankrolling a more than $110 million ballot measure, Prop 22, that would strip drivers of labor protections and allow the companies to regulate themselves.

“Since the beginning, these companies have been bad actors,” SEIU 721 president Bob Schoonover said. “Their entire business model is based around using technology to circumvent labor laws that working people have fought and died for over the past century. They’ve been cheating drivers, they’ve been cheating California taxpayers and it’s high time that they join us in the 21st century when it comes to employee protections. Judge Schulman made the right decision today and, though I have no doubt that Uber and Lyft will do everything in their power to continue to exploit drivers by any means necessary, I’m confident that working people will ultimately prevail.”

Mobile Workers Alliance is an organizing project of SEIU Local 721 that is fighting for employee status and union rights for app-based workers.

The New York Times reports Uber is looking to change labor laws:

Gig workers for Uber, Lyft, Instacart and other companies are classified in the United States as independent contractors who have significant flexibility but aren’t entitled to standard employment protections, including a minimum wage and paid sick days. During the pandemic, the lack of a safety net for these workers has been glaring.
Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s chief executive, argued in The New York Times this week for a “third way” — a new employment status with the flexibility of contract work but also some employee-like protections.



  1. P.D. Asilomar P.D. Asilomar August 18, 2020

    This “Contractor” sham has been around the Tech sector for years: All the big Silicon Gulch outfits have been using it to put up a firewall between them and the poor schmuck that’s told, after working an 11-month conmtract, during which he was paid no sick leave, no holidays, no healthcare, etc, that his contract wasn’t going to be renewed.

    Then, magically, after 12 months go by, he’s offered the same baloney job again under the same circumstances!

    “Job Shops” and Contract Agencies have been doing this to Tech workers for 30+ years now, and getting away with murder while the contract agencies like Manpower, Volt,etc. (there are a LOT) clean up with billing rate ‘way above what the “Contractor” actually gets, out of which he has to buy health insurance, etc etc.

    It’s time Uber and Lift convice their Tech Contract brothers and sisters to stop the same sort of abuse in the STEM/Tech sector as well!

    • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski Post author | August 21, 2020

      It doesn’t always work that way; some contractors want flexible work hours to accommodate family demands. AB5 has a number of flaws that should have been addressed well before it came to a vote. I have a considerable number of freelance writer friends who lost business overnight due to the law — and not every tech contractor comes in via Volt or Manpower.

  2. P.D. P.D. August 21, 2020

    Dan, what you say may be true in the smaller percentage of cases, but I spent my entire life in the STEM sector, and I can say that what I described is, for the greater part, verified by personal experience over decades.

    And “wanting” flexible hours” may be mainly because they have to keep other jobs just to make ends meet, when they’d much prefer a European or German model of workplace, with full, and better benefits at 32+ hours.

    Sorry, but while you may right in the minority of cases, you are mistaken in the majority of cases, and don’t see your way through the entire question.

    The “g’g” economy only exists because the whole picture never healed after 2008-9; you’d be surprised how many IT managers there are driving Uber.

    No piece of legislation is perfect; O that it were! But perhaps this does a greater good than harm _in the majority of cases_.

    Oh, and Uber/Lyft backed off their threat to abandon California, didn’t they? Says quite a lot, Dan.

  3. P.D. P.D. August 21, 2020

    OK, they stayed because a judge grated it…I was behind on that one…but the main points remain. For most persons, the “Gig” economy is just a way for employers to have low-paid slave labor instead of goo, solid, 40 hour week jobs with benefits.

    …and the effect the abuse of the H1B visa has had on STEM workers who are US citizens? Let’s hear an article on that!

  4. P.D. P.D. August 21, 2020

    Forgive the typos: Visual issue here.

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