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For immediate release: Feb. 13, 2020
Contact: Stacey Wells, (866) 450-2648
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Court Hearing in San Diego Ratchets Up Threat to App-Based Drivers’ Independence and Flexibility

Drivers turn to ballot measure to protect their ability to supplement their income as independent contractors in face of continued political attacks

SACRAMENTO – The threat is rising against hardworking teachers, retirees, students, parents and hundreds of thousands of other Californians who choose to supplement their income by driving with app-based rideshare and delivery platforms. Tomorrow’s hearing on a preliminary injunction filed by the San Diego City Attorney is the latest attack — not only on the rights of Instacart shoppers but on all California app-based drivers who choose to earn extra income as independent contractors.

This lawsuit is an extension of efforts by Sacramento politicians who pushed a new law (Assembly Bill 5) that threatens to take away the freedom and independence of hundreds of thousands of Californians who choose to earn income as app-based drivers. These politicians want to force app-based drivers to become traditional employees, eliminating their flexibility and right to choose when, where and how much they work, and which network platforms they earn with.

That’s why more than 36,000 app-based drivers are supporting the Protect App-Based Drivers & Services Act, a statewide ballot measure aimed for the November ballot that will protect the rights of all app-based drivers to continue to earn income as independent contractors while providing new earnings and benefit protections.

“This lawsuit threatens my ability to choose flexible work that fits around my life,” said Natalia Banaszczyk, a public school teacher in the Bay Area who shops with Instacart and uses the extra income to buy school supplies for her students. “The politicians are arbitrarily targeting app-based drivers and all of us should be worried about our ability to earn income on our own terms. We do not want to be employees and we want our voices heard. That’s why I support the ballot measure to protect our right to remain independent.”

Friday’s hearing is San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott’s second attempt to force Instacart to immediately reclassify its independent contractor shoppers statewide as employees, instead of seeking this remedy after a trial where full and complete evidence can be considered.

Last week, a San Diego County Superior Court judge declined to grant Elliott’s temporary restraining order against Instacart. If similar lawsuits are filed against other platforms, they could destroy the app-based rideshare and delivery service model in California and significantly cut back or even shut down the services that millions of consumers, small businesses and disadvantaged communities rely on every day.

The threat is real that lawsuits like the one against Instacart could extend to other platforms and hundreds of thousands more drivers. Lawmakers are openly urging city attorneys and the state attorney general to file lawsuits to take away the legal right of app-based drivers to continue to work as independent contractors even though they have chosen to do so.

The Protect App-Based Drivers & Services Act would protect the rights of Californians who choose to supplement their income by driving with app-based rideshare and delivery platforms to maintain their independent contractor status. The ballot measure protects flexibility, provides new benefits and earning guarantees, and strengthens consumer safety provisions.

The ballot measure would also protect the availability of app-based rideshare and food delivery services that so many of the most vulnerable in our community rely on, including services that improve mobility for seniors, the disabled and families without a vehicle. These vital services also keep drunk and impaired drivers off our roads and help small businesses such as restaurants and grocers reach millions of new customers.

“The ballot measure is our best hope to remain independent,” said Cora Mandapat, mother of three from South San Francisco who needs the flexibility to take care of her family. “We get to keep our independence and flexible schedules, and we get new benefits like health care and guaranteed earnings. It’s a win-win.”

According to the independent, non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, between 300,000 and 400,000 Californians choose to drive with rideshare and delivery platforms each month. Many supplement their income using app-based platforms because traditional employment doesn’t fit the needs and realities of their daily lives, including parents who want flexible schedules while children are in school, students who want to earn money part-time around their busy class schedules, retirees looking to supplement fixed incomes or for social interaction, and families struggling with California’s high cost of living who need extra income.