Proposition 22 drives voters to the polls

Ride-sharing and delivery apps have taken the wheel, becoming one of the most common modes of transportation in Los Angeles County. This year’s election will determine the financial livelihood of Cal Poly Pomona passengers and drivers that depend on these services.

Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are directing voters to pass Proposition 22, while the California Labor Federation is pushing voters to say no.

According to Ballotpedia, Proposition 22 seeks to classify app-based drivers as independent contractors instead of employees. This allows companies to avoid providing health benefits and paid sick leave to drivers. The proposition is in opposition to California Assembly Bill 5 passed in September 2019.

Drivers supporting Prop 22, like first-year mechanical engineering student Nicholas J. Grovhoug, are afraid that they may need to drive more to continue to be an employee for the companies. Ultimately, this would mean losing out on a flexible schedule.

“I support Proposition 22 because it allows me to keep my flexibility and freedom as an app-based driver,” Grovhoug said, “As a student, I cannot work a traditional job because of my school schedule. I always put school first, which is no problem when I can work whenever I have time.”

Before ordering a ride, Uber users are offered information regarding Proposition 22. (Rachel Ly | The Poly Post)

Uber and Lyft advertise that denying the proposition would lead to a layoff of a significant number of their drivers, prioritizing the ones willing to work full-time.

Terek Itani, a fourth-year computer engineering major, said, “I’m voting yes on Prop 22 because I believe Uber and Lyft drivers should be able to drive when they want and for how long they want. A good compromise is to allow those who want to be classified as an actual employee and work lots of hours to do so, but do not force every driver to become an employee.”

According to the California Secretary of State records, app-based driving companies like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart invested a combined total of more than $188 million into lobbying for Proposition 22.

The advertisements on the Uber app aim to sway the vote for Proposition 22. (Rachel Ly | The Poly Post)
Uber lays out possible consequences should a voter choose no on Proposition 22. (Rachel Ly | The Poly Post)

Those in opposition of the proposition argue that drivers deserve employment benefits. Currently, drivers do not have unemployment or paid sick leave, which continues to affect their livelihood, especially during the pandemic. COVID-19 calls for a two-week quarantine period, leaving some full-time drivers without pay.

After every ride, an advertisement to vote yes on Proposition 22 appears on the screen of both the driver and passenger. According to CNN Business, a lawsuit has been filed against Uber for pushing its political agenda on its users.

Alumnus Daniel Wang, a recent electrical engineering graduate said, “I voted no so that they would be considered actual employees instead of independent contractors. Current Uber and Lyft drivers are fighting for it. Those who vote yes on Proposition 22 are Uber and Lyft themselves. I assume it’s so that they don’t have to provide benefits if the drivers are considered independent contractors.”

According to CBS News, Uber and Lyft filed a lawsuit with the California First District Court of Appeal against California Assembly Bill 5 and threatened to leave California if their drivers become employees.

For many California residents, driving for ride-share services are their full-time job; therefore, opponents of Prop 22 argue they deserve an hourly wage.

Mario Guerrero, chair and associate professor in the Department of Political Science, said, “People are driving for hours and hours a day. They are working full-time and should be treated as employees. As a passenger, if drivers are getting benefits and their livelihoods are being taken care of, I’m willing to pay extra.”

Recent advertisements for proposition 22 flood the ride share app, Uber. (Rachel Ly | The Poly Post)

Passing Proposition 22 will save ride sharing services money because they would not need to pay drivers’ additional wages or provide benefits. Part-time drivers would continue to drive with a flexible schedule.

Denying the proposition allows full-time drivers to receive health benefits and an hourly wage. Ride-sharing services will need to contribute to programs like Social Security, unemployment, health insurance and Medicare.

Guerrero added, “It’s hard to keep straight what is yes or no. If people are voting, they should research what they are voting yes or no on.”

For more information on Proposition 22, visit https://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/propositions/22/arguments-rebuttals.htm.

(Feature image courtesy of Paul Hanaoka)

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