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Union Organizers Request Presence of Uber, Lyft Drivers in Bill Negotiations

Friday, July 19, 2019 | 2

Two groups trying to unionize drivers for Uber and Lyft, as well as the Service Employees International Union, took out a full-page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle demanding that drivers be brought into negotiations over any legislation that could reclassify them as employees.

Rebecca Stack-Martinez

Rebecca Stack-Martinez

Assembly Bill 5, by Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, would codify the California Supreme Court’s 2018 Dynamex decision, and apply to all labor disputes the test the high court created to determine employee status. The so-called ABC test the high court brought to California is currently limited to wage order disputes.

The three-part test presumes anyone who works is an employee. An employer or employee must rebut that presumption by proving the worker is free from control or direction in the performance of work; was hired to perform work outside of the usual course of business for the hiring entity; and is regularly employed in an independently established trade.

AB 5 includes a handful of exemptions for doctors, architects, lawyers and barbers. But it would likely result in those who drive for Uber and Lyft being reclassified as employees.

Gig Workers Rising and Mobile Workers Alliance said in the open letter to Uber and Lyft that drivers need a seat at the negotiating table. The ad demands that drivers have the “ability to bargain through a strong, democratic, driver-led union,” the Chronicle reports.

Rebecca Stack-Martinez, an organizer with Gig Workers Rising and an Uber driver, said drivers are the experts who understand what it’s like to work for companies such as Lyft and Uber.

“Drivers understand the daily impact that any decision will have,” she said.

The Chronicle reports that not all drivers are interested in being classified as employees, with some saying they prefer having the ability to work when they want, rather than having a scheduled shift.

Any effort to organize gig workers in California — or even to classify them as employees — could be complicated by a National Labor Relations Board memo finding Uber drivers are contractors.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to debate AB 5 during an Aug. 12 meeting.

The Assembly voted 59-15 to pass the measure May 29.


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