Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart spent $200 million in California to win a vote to keep gig workers as independent contractors, setting the tone for a debate likely to reach Albany in the next session. Californians overwhelmingly voted in favor of Proposition 22, which will allow Uber and Lyft to continue to classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees. The vote ends the most intense campaign to date over the status of app-based workers, with labor groups and progressive lawmakers squaring off against well-heeled gig-economy companies.

In New York state, lawmakers pushed to legislate the gig economy at the start of the year, but two bills that sought to change gig-worker status stalled when the pandemic reached New York in March, creating a health and fiscal crisis that put the brakes on most other state legislation.

Sen. Diane Savino, a Democrat from Staten Island who won reelection in Nov., said the same companies that fought for Proposition 22 have been “at the table” with lawmakers in Albany for months, working on a solution that provides “the flexibility of gig economy but creates the protection we all know workers need.”

The Proposition 22 vote exempts gig-economy companies from a 2019 California law, Assembly Bill 5, that granted driver and other gig workers full employment, including minimum wage protections, health care, unemployment, and sick leave benefits. The law was based on a California Supreme Court ruling in 2018 that said Uber and Lyft drivers should qualify as employees.

Source: Crain’s New York Business

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