This is an issue that would go almost unnoticed in the midst of the US presidential election. However, Californian citizens will also have to decide on the future of the “gig economy” (task-based economy in French) on November 3. As a reminder, the golden state passed a law in 2019 which aims to treat VTC drivers as employees and not self-employed. This completely changes the situation for the latter who can hope to benefit from health insurance paid for by their employers.
But this text is also very criticized by companies like Uber and Lyft who believe that it threatens their business model. Not admitting defeat, the latter therefore chose to respond by way of a local referendum.
A “dirty campaign” to preserve the interests of the platforms?
So , Proposition 22 sponsored by Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart, or Postmates asks voters to settle the debate on the status of VTC drivers. If they say yes, they will be considered self-employed, but if they don't, California law would apply and companies would therefore be forced to hire them.
As we can imagine, companies are doing everything to win this electoral fight. CNN reports that they have already invested more than 185 million dollars, unprecedented for a simple local referendum. Campaign spending is not capped in the United States, so the fight is not on a level playing field among participants. The no camp, led by the trade unions, was thus able to devote only 12 million dollars to counter this initiative.
If the big platforms invest such amounts, it is also because they are not at all sure of winning. A poll carried out at the end of September indeed shows a very divided electorate on the subject. 39% of respondents say they want to vote yes to proposal 22, while 36% are against it, and 25% say they are undecided.
Therefore, to be even more persuasive, the big companies involved on the file do not hesitate to brandish the threat to leave California. In addition to this blackmail, they would use more questionable means. Democrats accuse Uber and Lyft of leading a "dirty campaign" to secure victory.
Quoted by The Hill , California MP Lorena Gonzalez warns : “When you think about how much these companies have invested in the initiative process just to write their own rules, a new path has been chosen byr these billionaire Silicon Valley companies, and that should alarm us all. ”
The practices of the Yes camp are often singled out. The SFGate , for example, investigated mysterious emails and guides sent to Californian citizens. They come in the form of documents to help progressive voters make up their minds. Oddly enough, these groups, which support the Yes to Proposition 22, simply do not exist and would have been founded from scratch as part of the campaign.
Du side of the defenders of this initiative, one defends itself by specifying that "all the related expenses are declared in our reports on the comcampaign ptes ”. The idea, they say, is to ensure that drivers and the rest of the voters will overwhelmingly support them on polling day.
The November 3 result will be closely scrutinized in California and the rest of the states -United. In the event of a defeat, the behavior of companies like Uber and Lyft will also be interesting to observe. The fight should also continue on judicial ground where firms are opposed to the state of California.
By: Uber Technologies