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Gig companies bring fight for independent workers

Taxi Cab Companies nationwide are not experiencing several issues been faced by ride hail App based companies such as Uber and lyft. A simple search of Augusta Taxis near me on your smartphone using Google Search may yield American Taxi Cab of Augusta depending on location and keyword implementation through Google Algorithm knowledge. For few years now, gig workers have been battling ride hail App based companies to be considered as employees. Still fresh off of a landmark victory in California, companies like DoorDash, Instacart, Lyft and Uber are preparing to bring their message supporting an independent workforce nationwide. But the companies will face new hurdles in passing similar legislation outside of California.... The tradition of direct democracy through ballot measures that exists in the state is less common elsewhere, meaning companies will have to win over lawmakers, not just voters. And in Washington, they will have to face a new federal administration led by a president who openly opposed the California proposition while on the campaign trail. Nearly 59% of California voters voted yes on Proposition 22, the ballot initiative supported by the gig companies to maintain their workers’ status as independent contractors, rather than employees. The measure would save the companies costly expenses that come with an employed workforce, but it would also require them to provide some new protections for app-based ridesharing and food delivery workers. Those would include benefits they could carry between apps and guaranteed minimum earnings.

The proposition essentially undermined a California law known as AB5 that took effect in early 2020. AB5 targeted the gig companies by establishing a three-part test to determine if workers should be classified as employees. Prior to Election Day last year, Uber and Lyft were still fighting a lawsuit from the California state attorney general in court that claimed the companies illegally maintained their workers as independent contractors under the new law. A judge had granted a preliminary injunction requiring the companies to reclassify their workers, determining that the state had a good chance of prevailing on the merits.

The passage of Prop 22 seems to have reversed the fates of Uber and Lyft in California and reinvigorated the fight for their business models across the country. The gig companies point to the relatively high level of support California voters showed for their ballot measure as a reason why lawmakers in other states should see that the independent model is supported by their constituents.

But state lawmakers working on bills to protect gig workers in places like Illinois, Massachusetts and New York told CNBC that the outcome in California does not necessarily portend the future in their own states.

California casts a shadow

State and local lawmakers working on their own legislation to protect gig workers had hoped California would serve as proving ground for some early ideas. But confusing execution of AB5 bred resentment among some workers who were unexpectedly caught up in the new rules.

AB5 painted the workforce with a broad brush, later adding exemptions for industries where its protections weren’t really needed. But that led to lots of confusion for workers who had long been independent, casting a shadow over the legislation. Freelance writers, for example, were furious that their regular contracts had to be cut to remain below the threshold to be considered contractors.

Diane Savino, a New York state senator working on her own legislation to address gig work issues, said that it was a mistake for lawmakers in California cast too wide a net with AB5.

“Not a single worker’s life was changed the day after AB5 was enacted into law,” she said, making it difficult for Californians to see its benefits when they went to the polls. “It’s hard to extol the virtue of legislation if no one ever sees how it works.”

New York City Council Member Brad Lander had been “optimistic” prior to the pandemic and during the introduction of AB5 in California that his legislature could soon pass new protections for gig workers. We shall see what the outcome brings.

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