By Mark Anderson – Staff Writer, Sacramento Business Journal
A ballot measure supported by gig economy companies to overturn California’s Assembly Bill 5, the new independent contractor labor law, has reached 25% of its needed signatures to get on the November ballot.
Supporters say they’re planning to go past 100%, and they have app-based drivers volunteering to get petitions signed.
A coalition of ride-hailing and other network companies called Protect App-Based Drivers and Services has been collecting signatures for three weeks, and it has gathered more than 230,000. The group said it expects to shoot past the 623,212-signature requirement and collect at least 1 million.
The coalition has hired a signature gathering firm to collect signatures statewide, but it also has had drivers request petitions and they are getting passengers to support the initiative, said Stacey Wells, spokeswoman for the campaign. “The drivers say their passengers are really interested.”
If passed, the ballot measure would protect the right of app-based drivers to work as independent contractors, as long as they control their own hours and when, where and how long they work. It would also guarantee a minimum earning of 120% of the minimum wage plus 30 cents per mile. And it would provide some health insurance for contractors who work a minimum number of hours per week.
The initiative goes beyond the worker protections of AB 5, Wells said. “AB 5 is a messed-up piece of legislation written for the 1950s, but this has become something that protects workers today.”
The ballot measure would exclude app-based businesses from the labor code requirements of AB 5, which mandates that most workers become employees.
AB 5, passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom last year, took effect on Jan. 1. It strictly limits who is eligible to work as freelancers or independent contractors, and requires others to be classified as employees.
Earlier this month, lawmakers introduced a bill to immediately freeze AB 5. That legislation, AB 1928, would halt AB 5’s new rules if it’s approved.
AB 5’s author, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), has also introduced a new bill to refine work rules related to AB 5.