California voters sided with Uber and Lyft on Election Day, voting to adopt Proposition 22, which classifies gig drivers as independent contractors, not employees.
The state ballot exempts gig-economy companies from Assembly Bill 5, a California labor law passed in 2019 that would have given gig workers full employment status including minimum wage protections, health care, unemployment benefits and sick leave — something Uber and Lyft vigorously opposed.
In San Francisco — headquarters for Uber and Lyft — 78 percent of app-based drivers are Black and people of color, and 56 percent are immigrants, according to U.C. Santa Cruz study.
More than half of those app workers work 40-plus hours a week, and 15 percent have to rely on public assistance to get by.
“All too often, these apps are feeding the false promise of stable living to immigrants and people of color. It’s what driver activists like to call ‘exploitation through innovation,'” Erica Smiley wrote in an opinion piece for Guardian.
Uber and Lyft shares skyrocketed on Wednesday when it became clear that their fears had been unfounded about the costs and business impacts of a potential employment model change, Washington Post reported.
Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and other gig economy companies spent more than $200 million supporting Prop 22, making it the most expensive ballot-measure campaign ever in California, Business Insider reported.
The California NAACP chapter publicly endorsed Uber and Lyft’s controversial ballot measure. Public records show that NAACP President Alice Huffman’s consulting firm was paid for helping the campaign get the word out.
Uber and Lyft’s Yes on Prop 22 campaign paid Huffman’s firm, AC Public Affairs, $85,000 since February as the companies worked on getting voters to pass the measure, according to Business Insider.
Uber shares rose as much as 18 percent on Wednesday and Lyft, as much as 22 percent after voters approved Proposition 22.
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Uber’s stock-price increase added as much as $11 billion to its market capitalization, and Lyft’s market value grew by as much as $1.8 billion, according to Business Insider.
Vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris backed Assembly Bill 5, siding with organized labor to give gig workers full employment status and benefits.
Harris’ brother-in-law, Tony West, is Uber’s chief legal officer and became “the public face of Uber’s resistance to the bill,” LA Times reported. West is married to Maya Harris, the senator’s sister. Maya Harris’ daughter, Meena Harris, also works at Uber on its diversity and inclusion team.
“The swamp is using Black ‘Diversity’ Faces to hurt Black America, structurally. Uber has Kamala’s family members as part of their lobbying arm. Uber & Lyft stocks are flying after elites won Prop 22.U get your ‘diversity fix’ while workers are pushed back,” The Moguldom Nation CEO Jamarlin Martin tweeted.
Uber and Lyft are not the only Silicon Valley companies to hire lobbyists with ties to Black influencers.
Juul, maker of the best-known e-cigarette on the market, hoped to avert a public relations crisis after being accused of marketing to teens. It hired Ben Jealous, former head of the NAACP, to lobby lawmakers in Washington, D.C.