Falling Back To Earth

California’s rejection of ride-hailing drivers as contractors undoes the entire gig economy

Stowe Boyd
Sep 10, 2019 · 3 min read

In California Labor Bill, Near Passage, Is Blow to Uber and Lyft, Kate Conger and Noam Scheiber offer a comprehensive review of the missteps by Uber and Lyft in California leading up to the vote expected this week in favor of Assembly Bill 5, which will require the ride-hailing companies to treat drivers as employees and not as contractors.

The bill is based on a 2018 CA Supreme Court ruling that determines that a worker must be classified as an employee if they perform a function central to a company’s business. So an accountant doing the books can be a contractor, but if your business is providing rides to passengers, the drivers are employees. Period.

The implications go far beyond ride-hailing:

The article details how the labor unions rallied against the efforts of the ride-hailing companies to sidestep the bill and create an intermediate sort of classification for drivers, one that would spare the companies from taking on the costly benefits of employment and paying for the cars involved:

This is a question not only at the heart of ride hailing, but the foundations of the gig economy, which rests on a foundation of worker precarity and externalizing its costs.

I recently quoted Bastian Lehman, the CEO of Postmates, in The Starting Point and The Bottom Line for The Gig Economy, where he makes the right noises, concluding with this:

This should be the abiding insight of what is motivating AB 5, and the eventual reassessment of the economics of gig economy platforms.

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Stowe Boyd

Written by

Work ecologist. Founder, Work Futures. The ecology of work and the anthropology of the future.

Work Futures

The ecology of work, and the anthropology of the future

Stowe Boyd

Written by

Work ecologist. Founder, Work Futures. The ecology of work and the anthropology of the future.

Work Futures

The ecology of work, and the anthropology of the future

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