By Dave Thomasson
As a musician, this pandemic has been brutal for me. Paying gigs have all but disappeared. I wouldn’t even be able to pay my bills, except that I use my car to drive rideshare on the side. But now even that work is under threat, thanks to Sacramento politicians who think they know what’s best for me.
Last year, politicians passed AB 5, a widely-criticized law that tries to force independent contractors like app-based rideshare and delivery drivers to become traditional employees with rigid schedules. But I don’t want to be an employee, and neither do any other app-based drivers I know. That’s why 100,000 drivers – myself included – support Proposition 22.
Voting Yes on Prop. 22 would protect the freedom and flexibility of independent work and provide app-based rideshare and delivery drivers with new benefits and protections, including guaranteed minimum earnings, funding for health benefits, insurance for injuries on the job, and additional protections against harassment and any form of discrimination. It’s the perfect win-win solution that both drivers and our customers want.
But most importantly, this ballot measure will protect our freedom to drive when, where and with whatever platform we want.
It’s a much more appealing option than the alternative: an outdated employment model that would bring with it the baggage we’ve worked so hard to escape, such as set shifts, flat wages and limits on how much we can work.
Before COVID-19, I often had music gigs at night and on weekends. I’d travel to the San Fernando Valley or Inland Empire. My music – my passion – makes it impossible to hold any job with a set schedule, even if it’s part-time. That’s why the flexibility to set my own hours with rideshare has been a lifesaver. And now it’s providing me a lifeline to support myself through the pandemic.
I’m not alone. A recent economic study found that making drivers employees could destroy hundreds of thousands of app-based driver jobs in California alone. This on top of all the other livelihoods already being upended by the law.
What’s most frustrating about all this is the fact that drivers want to remain independent by four-to-one. This tracks with national trends that say more than 9 out of 10 independent contractors prefer this style of work over traditional employment and that people are increasingly turning to it out of preference. Yet politicians continue to try to destroy our livelihoods anyway.
Politicians in Sacramento say that they’re trying to improve our work, but they refuse to listen to us or understand what we really want and need. In addition to the more than 100,000 app-based drivers supporting Prop. 22, a number of prominent social justice and civil rights organizations are backing the cause, including the California NAACP, the National Action Network California Chapter and the National Hispanic Council on Aging.
As cities begin reopening, my music gigs will slowly start to return. In the meantime, rideshare is helping me and my Covina community get by. If anything, the pandemic has only proven just how essential these services are for drivers and consumers alike. That’s why we need to protect these types of opportunities, especially since traditional jobs will be slow to come back amid a recession.
I urge you to join me in voting Yes on Prop. 22, and help ensure independent work continues to have a place in California.
Dave Thomasson is a musician and Lyft driver from West Covina.