Campaign backed by Uber, Lyft, Instacart, and others files signatures for California ballot initiative to define app-based drivers as independent contractors and enact regulations

Californians could decide whether app-based drivers should be classified as independent contractors in November. On March 27, the campaign Protect App-Based Drivers & Services filed more than 1 million signatures with local election officials for the ballot measure. Counties have eight working days to count signatures followed by 30 working days to conduct a random sample of signature validity. At least 623,212 signatures need to be valid.

The ballot measure would consider app-based drivers to be independent contractors and not employees or agents. Therefore, the ballot measure would override Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5), signed in September 2019, on the question of whether app-based drivers are employees or independent contractors. Examples of companies that hire app-based drivers include Uber Technologies, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart, and Postmates. The ballot measure would not affect how AB 5 is applied to other types of workers.

AB 5 established a three-factor test to decide a worker’s status as an independent contractor. The three-factor test requires that (a) the worker is free from the hiring company’s control and direction in the performance of work; (b) the worker is doing work that is outside the company’s usual course of business; and (c) the worker is engaged in an established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.

The ballot measure would also enact labor and wage policies specific to app-based drivers and companies, including a net earnings floor based on 120 percent of the state’s or municipality’s minimum wage and 30 cents per mile; a limit to the hours permitted to work during a 24-hour period; healthcare subsidies; occupational accident insurance; and accidental death insurance. The ballot measure would also require the companies to develop anti-discrimination and sexual harassment policies.

On August 30, 2019, three companies—DoorDash, Lyft, and Uber—each placed $30 million into campaign accounts to fund a ballot initiative campaign should the legislature pass AB 5 without compromising with the companies. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed AB 5 on September 18 without an exemption for app-based drivers and employers. The ballot initiative was filed on October 29, 2019. The companies Instacart (Maplebear, Inc.) and Postmates also joined the campaign, each contributing $10 million. Together, the five businesses had provided more than $110 million in support of the ballot initiative.

As of March 30, four citizen-initiated ballot measures have qualified to appear on the ballot for November 3, 2020, in California. Campaigns for an additional two ballot initiatives have filed signatures to appear on the ballot. The California State Legislature can place constitutional amendments, statutes, and bonds on the ballot for voter consideration.

Additional reading:
California 2020 ballot propositions
What were the most expensive ballot measures in California