California judge: gig-worker exemption from labor law was unconstitutional

In November, California voters approved Prop 22, which gave Uber, Lyft and other companies exemptions from labor law—and imposed those exemptions on gig workers. A judge has ruled that these exemptions are unconstitutional. [Gizmodo via BBS]

Created by a cadre of gig companies including Uber, Lyft, and Doordash, Prop 22 rolled back California worker protections that would have required these companies to classify independent contractors, such as drivers and delivery workers, as employees, thus guaranteeing them basic worker protections like paid sick days, minimum wage, and unemployment benefits (all of which would have been extremely useful during a deadly pandemic). These companies reportedly spent more than $200 million to push the measure, which passed with 58% support late last year.

The sheer scale of the Prop 22 advertising campaign—some quarter of a billion dollars in a single state—was overwhelming. I've seen it described as the most expensive political campaign in history for something that was not a human candidate. But 58.63% was not a photo finish. Asking that 58.63% to pay more for their lukewarm, foil-compressed deliveryburgers, or to give greater consideration to the labor rights of the person delivering it, is going to be an uphill struggle—especially as permanently unprofitable companies like Uber see real trouble coming and declare themselves too big to fail.