Prop. 22 passed, now what?

Kimberly A. Hathaway

Nov 19

Photo: Element5 Digital

Prop. 22 passed. Is everyone happy? No. Will it benefit more gig workers than it hurts? Only time will tell. For now, let’s do a quick recap and see how this will impact those of you working in food delivery, grocery delivery, and rideshare in California.

This was the costliest ballot proposition in California history with $224 million in campaign ads and over $200 million of that from the proponents, Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart, and Postmates.

What will the passing of Proposition 22 mean for gig workers on the ground reeling from the pandemic with more lockdowns being ordered?

Show me the money

The “Yes” measure included a laundry list of income increases and guaranteed benefits, including a guarantee of 120 percent of the minimum wage. Here’s what text of Proposition 22 states and what it now must provide to gig workers:

120% of local minimum wage

The newly-passed Prop. 22 legislation states that drivers would be guaranteed 120 percent of minimum wage based on engaged time on the app.

This is probably the most important aspect of Prop. 22 for gig workers, how much more their guaranteed earnings will be with the passage of the measure. From Ballotpedia:

“ … payments for the difference between a worker’s net earnings, excluding tips, and a net earnings floor based on 120% of the minimum wage applied to a driver’s engaged time and 30 cents, adjusted for inflation after 2021, per engaged mile.”

Photo: Alexander Mils, Unsplash

Healthcare subsidy

The proposition also guarantees an 84 percent health care subsidy based on averaging Affordable Care Act premiums in California for those working over 25 hours per week.

Drivers who average 15 hours per week will receive a stipend for health insurance that grows as they reach the 25 hours per week threshold.

Occupational, disability, and death insurance

Gig workers will also be afforded $1 million in occupational accident insurance, disability payments of 66 percent of average weekly earnings, and accidental death insurance will now be available for spouses, children, or other dependents.

New policies and training

Public pressure from numerous incidents led to the following new policies that will protect both drivers and passengers and address potential discrimination and harassment.

From Ballotpedia:

“ … Proposition 22 also required the companies to: develop anti-discrimination and sexual harassment policies; develop training programs for drivers related to driving, traffic, accident avoidance, and recognizing and reporting sexual assault and misconduct; have zero-tolerance policies for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol; and require criminal background checks for drivers. The ballot initiative criminalized false impersonation of an app-based driver as a misdemeanor.”

What does Prop. 22 mean for gig workers in other states?

Gig workers move around and work in other states just like workers in other industries and several states were considering legislation similar to California’s AB5, the law that forces independent contractors to be classified as employees. These include New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Illinois.

With the passage of Prop. 22 these states, and others, may rethink taking action and develop a ‘wait and see’ approach.

For now, gig workers in California can look forward to the benefits of Prop. 22 beginning in mid-December, and after what they have been through with the pandemic and lockdowns, it will likely be a relief to have some guarantees and added benefits. It may not be what all gig workers wanted, but it’s a start.

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