By Victoria Thomas

For more than a decade, app-based rideshare and delivery work has provided hundreds of thousands of Californians like me with a supplemental way to earn money. Retirees, caregivers, parents, teachers and students alike have all used app-based work on our own schedules to earn extra cash and help cover the bills..

However, the fate of app-based work hangs in the balance as  the California Supreme Court is expected to make a critical ruling on Prop 22  soon.

In 2020, a resounding 60 percent of California voters passed Prop 22, a statewide ballot measure aimed at protecting the rights of app-based drivers to work as independent contractors, free to set our own schedules and works on our own terms. The measure also provided guaranteed earnings and new benefits.

Despite a recent Court of Appeal decision upholding Prop 22, special interest opponents of the law have challenged it all the way to the Supreme Court.  Prop 22 opponents are fighting to overturn the will of 10 million California voters  and threaten to take away app-based work for hundreds of thousands of people like me.

A newly released report from the Berkeley Research Group found that if Prop 22 were no longer the law of the land, and companies were required to reclassify drivers as employees, it could force app-based platforms to slash the number of drivers from roughly 1.4 million to just over 98,000 –  a reduction of more than 1.3 million work opportunities app-based driver job.

According to the report, a reversal of Prop 22 could “(s)ignificantly threaten the continued operation of the network platform model in California” and “(r)educe the number of app-based driver jobs needed to satisfy consumer demand by at least 93 percent, resulting in the immediate elimination of work opportunities for hundreds of thousands of Californians currently working as independent contractor drivers.”

As for DoorDash, I’ve seen firsthand how important this work and services we provide our communities are. In these challenging economic times, it just doesn’t make sense to jeopardize  the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of app-based drivers. I’ve met other drivers who utilize driving income to pay off student debt, who help out their families and who would be without any earnings at all if they had to be full-time employees. Furthermore, we hear stories all the time about drivers who help get folks to doctor appointments, who deliver meals to those who are homebound. The bottom line is that California can’t afford to lose this vital part of how people work and live.

The simple reality is that app-based drivers like me prefer working as independent contractors: 87 percent of drivers support Prop 22 with even more affirming the law has been good for us. Drivers statewide have continued to reiterate that the courts should stand by voters and protect Prop 22.

If the California Supreme Court were to overturn the measure, it would devastate those of us who work as rideshare or food delivery drivers and force us to make a tough call: give up our independence – or look for new ways to earn extra supplemental income at a time when the economy is uncertain and the cost of living is sky-high.

App-based platforms contribute to local businesses growing and hiring, stimulating economic opportunity in our communities across the state. Some of the most vulnerable populations have also benefited greatly from the flexible, convenient model of app-based delivery platforms. Parents can spend more time helping with homework when groceries are being delivered for them and elderly can rest assured a hot meal will be delivered that evening.

If we see this work greatly reduced or disappear entirely, it’s not just us drivers who would be affected. I’ve met restaurant owners who didn’t have options for delivery before app-based work and their businesses couldn’t sustain it without these apps. Plus, customers could see a big jump in prices and wait times.

The Supreme Court should respect the will of the voters, protect the integrity of California’s initiative process, and protect earning opportunities for hundreds of thousands of app-based drivers. The court should uphold Prop 22.

Victoria Thomas is a Los Angeles resident. She drives for DoorDash.

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