October 20, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Prop. 22 ruled unconstitutional, a blow to CA gig economy law

California’s giant ride-hailing and delivery companies suffered a major setback Friday as a state Superior Court judge invalidated a 2020 ballot proposition that allowed Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and other businesses to classify their workers as independent contractors.

In a lawsuit brought by the Service Employees International Union, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch ruled that parts of Proposition 22 are unconstitutional because they infringe on the power of the Legislature to include app-based drivers under the state’s workers’ compensation law.

Gig economy companies spent more than $220 million last year in the nation’s costliest-ever ballot initiative campaign after the California Legislature passed a law, AB 5, requiring drivers to be classified as employees with benefits such as minimum wage, overtime and workers’ compensation in case of injury.

“They tried to boost their profits by undermining democracy and the state Constitution,” said Bob Schoonover, president of SEIU California State Council, in applauding the ruling. “For two years, drivers have been saying that democracy cannot be bought. And today’s decision shows they were right.”

Uber pushed back against the ruling in a statement Friday, emphasizing that California’s attorney general previously had “strongly defended” Proposition 22’s constitutionality.

“This ruling ignores the will of the overwhelming majority of California voters and defies both logic and the law,” the company said. “We will appeal and we expect to win.”

Californians overwhelmingly approved the ballot measure, which won with 58% of the vote in the November election.

The California Supreme Court previously denied a constitutional challenge to Proposition 22 in February. The plaintiffs refiled the suit in a lower venue, Alameda County Superior Court, soon after the setback.