Uber, Lyft Use Apps To Get Drivers To Oppose Employee Status

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Fearing a proposed California law that would clarify that drivers for Uber and Lyft are employees, the companies are sending messages to drivers through the apps they use to work asking them to oppose the law.

“When I press to go with Uber, I get a notification and the notification says ‘Protect Driver’s Flexibility’,” explained Al Aloudi, a driver with both Uber and Lyft for eight years. He says the in-app notifications are usually about important issues like money or safety, so drivers check them regularly. (The companies send less urgent messages to drivers’ email.)

Aloudi walked KPIX through the notification. A click on the “Protect Driver’s Flexibility” button leads to another page that says, “Fight for driver flexibility in California” and “Recent changes to California law could threaten your access to flexible work with Uber. Unless the California legislature takes action to modernize the law, you could lose your ability to work with multiple apps and control when and where you choose to drive with Uber.” (Italics in the original.) Underneath that language is a button to “Sign the petition.”

…The underlying issue goes back to a State Supreme Court ruling last year. In Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, the court ruled that a worker is an employee unless a they qualify for an exception and rideshare drivers do not appear to qualify for an exception. A proposed law called AB 5 would codify and expand the Dynamex decision and it has already passed in the State Assembly. As the bill now works its way through the State Senate, companies like Uber and Lyft are trying to mobilize their drivers to oppose AB 5 and demand a new law to change the Dynamex decision.

As employees, drivers would be entitled to a number or rights and benefits, including worker’s compensation, paid sick leave and minimum wages. And while there’s no law that requires employees to be carefully scheduled, there are powerful incentives for an employer to control the number of hours an employee works.

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