By Reverand Darryl Scarbrough
All over the country, we’ve seen repeated attempts by some to undermine our elections and suppress voter participation, particularly for minorities and underserved communities. In response, progressives and social justice advocates have fought valiantly to protect the voter’s rights and uphold the integrity of our elections.
That’s precisely why it’s so disheartening to see election results here in California, ostensibly the most progressive state in the union, actually face such an anti-democratic outcome.
Millions of voters, including a majority of whom are people of color, have seen their voices and votes discounted and denied.
In a legally flawed ruling, a single Superior Court judge ruled that Proposition 22 is unenforceable. Proposition 22 is the measure overwhelmingly passed by voters that protected the ability of app-based drivers to work as independent contractors, while providing historic new benefits and protections.
This ruling ignored a century’s worth of case law requiring the courts to protect the voters’ right of initiative.
While the lawsuit will be appealed and Proposition 22 likely upheld, it’s still a stain on California’s system of direct democracy.
Proposition 22 was approved by 60% of California’s electorate — nearly 10 million voters. Post-election analyses show Proposition 22 “found widespread support in neighborhoods with large Black and Latino communities.”
In addition to being an attack on the will of California voters, it is also an assault on California’s million-plus app-based workers who, surveys show, overwhelmingly want to work as independent contractors and supported Proposition 22 by large margins.
In fact, a recent survey showed that 80% of California app-based drivers are happy that Proposition 22 passed, with 76% saying it benefits them personally by providing independence and flexibility.
National surveys show that nearly 70% of ride-share drivers identify as members of racial and/or ethnic minority groups. If upheld, the legal attack on Proposition 22 will have a disproportionate impact on California’s Black and Brown families who rely on app-based work to supplement income or to help make ends meet, and who want and need the flexibility of being an independent contractor.
This judge’s seriously flawed decision and the efforts of special interest groups would, if successful, also deny these same app-based drivers the historic, first-in-the-nation benefits provided by Proposition 22, including a minimum earnings guarantee that’s higher than the minimum wage, access to health care coverage via a stipend, and insurance for injuries and illnesses sustained during work.
More than 140 diverse organizations supported Proposition 22, including the CA NAACP, National Action Network Los Angeles and Sacramento chapters (the Reverend Sharpton-founded group), League of United Latin American Citizens Council #3288, the Congress on Racial Equality, National Diversity Coalition and many others.
Proposition 22 was also actively supported by nearly 120,000 app-based drivers who campaigned to pass the measure.
But most importantly, Proposition 22 was a landslide victory supported by 60% of voters — millions and millions of Californians across the political spectrum who made an informed choice at the ballot box.
It’s disappointing that certain special interests are trying to deny the clear will of the voters and the desires of hundreds of thousands of drivers. Their efforts undermine democracy and the most precious right granted to Californians: the right to vote and have the decision of the overwhelming majority respected.
We’re confident in our judicial system and that Proposition 22 will be upheld on appeal. Anything short of that is a dangerous attack on direct democracy and the rights of voters.
We must respect the will of the people and protect Proposition 22.
Reverend Darryl Scarbrough is president of the National Action Network Sacramento and the Senior Pastor of BOSS Church in Sacramento.