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Young: Yes on Assembly Bill 5

By Julius Young

Tuesday, September 3, 2019 | 579 | 1 | min read

The California Legislature should vote to pass Assembly Bill 5, the hotly contested bill that would expand the application of the “ABC test” used by the California Supreme Court in the Dynamex case.

Julius Young

Julius Young

While AB 5 may not be a perfect bill, it is an important step forward for California workers, many of whom are at gig work jobs that afford them few rights. Currently, most gig jobs do not provide workers’ compensation coverage, unemployment insurance, health benefits or the opportunity to unionize.

AB 5 is the product of months of negotiations in Sacramento, and a number of exceptions that make sense have been hammered out. Reasonable people can disagree about particular industries that may not fit the ABC test model.

But the most prevalent gig work models should not get a pass. That includes Uber and Lyft.

I’m quite familiar with those ride-sharing services. I use Uber and Lyft quite often up and down the San Francisco Peninsula where I live, and in the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, where I work. I’ve made it a point this year to ask the drivers about AB 5. I reckon I’ve talked to 50 or more drivers about the bill.

My sample isn’t scientific, but I’d say a third favor the bill, a third aren’t sure or haven’t thought about it, and a third oppose being termed employees.

What I find disingenuous is the argument being advanced by Uber and Lyft execs and some of their spokespersons that AB 5 would destroy the opportunity to work for those drivers who only want to work occasionally, work odd hours or flexible schedules. Yes, there are parents, caregivers, retired people, artists, students and a host of other groups who like gig work with its flexibility.

There is no reason that the gig economy companies could not continue to offer flexible schedules to those workers.

There are many workers who are not doing gig work off an internet platform who work part-time. They are covered by workers' comp and are eligible for unemployment insurance. They may or may not be eligible for health benefits, depending on whether they work more than a minimum amount of hours.

If AB 5 is enacted, Uber an Lyft should be able to accommodate those workers with a reasonable adjustment to their model. The Legislature and the governor should not bend to the scare tactics of these tech titans.

It is time to put an end to the rampant misclassification and cost shifting before it further damages the prospects of California’s workforce.

Yes on AB 5.

Julius Young is a claimants' attorney for the Boxer & Gerson law firm in Oakland. This column was reprinted with his permission from his blog, www.workerscompzone.com.

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