The fate of California’s Prop. 22 is uncertain yet again.
On Friday, a Superior Court judge out of Alameda County called the measure that exempts ride-share and delivery workers from being paid and treated as employees unconstitutional. Judge Frank Roesch wrote in his ruling that “it limits the power of a future legislature to define app-based drivers as workers subject to workers’ compensation law.”
Uber and Lyft drivers, along with other gig workers throughout California, have been considered independent contractors since a 2020 law known as Prop. 22 was passed.
Gig worker unions had fought hard against the measure, but ultimately Californians supported Prop. 22 with 58 percent voting for it. The proposition was heavily backed by ride-share companies who stand to profit if drivers and delivery workers are not considered employees. Earlier this month, Lyft and Uber introduced a bill in Massachusetts based off of Prop. 22.
This ruling is a cause for celebration for gig workers and their allies.
Shona Clarkson, lead organizer with Gig Workers Rising, a workers’ advocacy group, called Prop. 22 a “corporate power grab.”
It “is not just harmful for gig workers — it is also dangerous for our democracy. This fight is not over until all gig workers receive the living wages, benefits and voice on the job they have earned,” Clarkson said.
However, since Uber and Lyft are already set to appeal, the ruling doesn’t mean much will happen in the short-term.
“The companies will no doubt appeal, but our fight for justice took a big step forward today,” wrote the Mobile Workers Alliance, a group of ride-share workers fighting for better treatment, on Twitter.
Once an appeal is filed, that will stop any changes to the law and Prop. 22 will remain in effect as is, according to an Uber spokesperson.
In an emailed statement, an Uber spokesperson said, “This ruling ignores the will of the overwhelming majority of California voters and defies both logic and the law. You don’t have to take our word for it: California’s Attorney General strongly defended Prop 22’s constitutionality in this very case.”
A pro-Prop. 22 group supported by Uber, Lyft, Instacart, and DoorDash called the Protect App-Based Drivers & Services Coalition called the ruling an “outrageous decision” and “an affront to the overwhelming majority of California voters who passed Prop 22,” in an emailed statement.