Uber, Lyft Desperate Not To Get Assembly Bill 5 Passed

Uber and Lyft stickers are seen on a car windscreen as protesters join an Uber drivers' strike for higher wages at LAX airport in Los Angeles
Uber and Lyft stickers are seen on a car windscreen as protesters join an Uber drivers' strike for higher wages at LAX airport in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 8, 2019.
(Photo: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

The fight on Assembly Bill 5 is ongoing and intensifying, with both sides to the conflict, refusing to hear each other out. If passed, this California state bill will allow for raid-hail drivers to be considered employees instead of just independent contractors, as they currently are. Uber and Lyft have doubled their efforts to stop this bill from happening.

Uber and Lyft are sparing no efforts to make sure the Assembly Bill 5 does not get passed. The companies emailed millions of Californians last Wednesday, even making $30 million pledges each to take the issue up to the hands of the voters. They believe that this bill, once becoming law, could just lead to less-reliable rides.

These actions of the companies follow that of the protests done by a caravan of drivers across California earlier this wake. Even with this clamor to become regular employees, Uber and Lyft think this should not be allowed, because of the possible repercussions to the quality of rides passengers rely on them for. They also believe that this calls for regular employment is counterintuitive, leading to a higher number of drivers losing jobs instead.

AB 5 may lead to hundreds of thousands of California Lyft drivers out of work," Lyft's petition reads. "As a result, passengers could wait longer for rides or risk losing reliable access to rideshare altogether." Uber essentially echoed the same views.

According to Uber, if all drivers will become employees instead of independent contractors, the rideshare experience will fundamentally change as passengers have come to know it. Uber's capacity to connect with the passengers will be curtailed, and the rides will become less dependable.

On the other hand, drivers seem to have valid reasons why they want to become employees instead of independent contractors. Their current status precludes them from having important benefits such as social security, health insurance, overtime pays and paid sick leaves, among others. The drivers complained that their status makes them vulnerable to exploitation.

With the economy not even on their favor because the costs of living are continuing to rise, many drivers are forced to work longer hours and yet lower pay through the years. What they earn in driving is not enough, and some of the missing benefits would be of great help if they have them.

According to Mobile Workers Alliance, Uber and Lyft's actions are quite dishonest and desperate. "Both of these companies are doing what looks like a very desperate last-ditch effort to try to get their customer base to go against drivers' rights," said Coral Itzcalli, spokeswoman for Mobile Workers Alliance. "The scheme of independent contractors is what companies have used for decades. What it does is saddle the cost of the business on the average worker."

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