By Al Porche
Six months into the worst health and economic crises anyone alive has ever known, California’s economy is reeling. Millions have lost their jobs and many laid-off Californians have turned to app-based delivery to make ends meet. But these newfound opportunities could be gone for good unless the voters step up to save them.
I’m one of the Californians who is making ends meet because of the income I earn through app-based delivery. Since the pandemic struck, I’ve delivered meals and groceries to families in my community. I enjoy the work and know that I’m helping families get life’s necessities while staying safe inside their homes. As an Army veteran, helping people is part of who I am; I consider my delivery work another dimension of my lifelong commitment to service.
A new law, Assembly Bill 5, would prevent independent contractors from working with app-based rideshare and delivery platforms. It would force us to become full-time employees with rigid schedules. But the reality is that those full-time jobs are illusionary; people like me who enjoy flexible, part-time work will be left with no job at all. The stream of income that I and thousands of others rely on during this difficult time will dry up.
There are thousands more like me who have turned to app-based delivery in the absence of other job opportunities or to augment jobs they have now. But if voters don’t approve Proposition 22, we could all be out of work completely.
The way to save our jobs and preserve vital services is to pass Proposition 22. It will allow the hundreds of thousands of app-based drivers like me to work when and where we want. We’ll get to keep our freedom and flexibility, and the peace of mind that comes with that. No matter what, there will always be work we can do and services we can provide. That’s an assurance I need.
Sacramento politicians opposed to Proposition 22 claim they know what’s best for drivers by forcing us into being employees rather than allowing us to remain independent contractors. They dismiss the more than 100,000 app-based drivers who support Proposition 22. They don’t seem to care that,according to independent polls, drivers want to preserve flexibility by a four to one margin.
Instead of working when we want, politicians think it’s better if drivers’ hours are dictated to us with set shifts and rigid schedules. They don’t care that an overwhelming majority of drivers work less than 20 hours a week because they are taking care of family or have another job or are going to school — flexibility we’d lose if forced into traditional employment status.
In contrast to the Sacramento plan, Proposition 22 would not only protect our independence and save our jobs and the services we provide, it would strengthen them. Proposition 22 would meaningfully help drivers like me by creating a wage guarantee that means I’ll always receive at least 120% of minimum wage including compensation for expenses. It would ensure drivers have access to benefits like health care, and it would create new public safety and anti-discrimination protections for drivers and customers alike. Proposition 22 isn’t just designed to help drivers; it’s designed to help the millions of Californians who use app-based services by, for example, implementing recurring background checks for drivers and zero tolerance for drug and alcohol offenses.
In supporting Proposition 22, you not only stand with more than 100,000 drivers, you stand with local chapters of the NAACP and Black Lives Matter, veterans’ groups, civic business groups like the Chamber of Commerce, public safety groups and advocacy groups that protect seniors.
If the pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that traditional jobs can’t be the only option in our economy. Too many people getting laid off from their full-time jobs will have nowhere to turn if we declare war on app-based gig work. Instead, we need to protect our right to work independently. And with Proposition 22, we’ll be treated with the dignity and have the rights we deserve.
As a driver, I urge you to vote yes on Proposition 22 to protect my independence and provide me with new benefits and protections.
Together, we have a chance to right Sacramento’s wrongs.
Porche is an Army veteran and app-based rideshare and delivery driver who lives in Menifee.