Proposition 22’s proponents have also been campaigning in other ways. Ride-share passengers have received numerous push notifications telling them to vote yes, while Uber drivers logging into their app have also seen a slideshow with messages like, “A no vote would mean far fewer jobs.”
Meanwhile, labor groups have contributed much of the $20 million raised by the campaign against Proposition 22, a figure that’s only about a tenth of what their rivals have brought in. However, a number of prominent state and national Democratic politicians have opposed the measure, including Joe Biden and his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, as well as Rep. Barbara Lee and former presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Despite the yes side’s lopsided resource advantage, UC Berkeley finds little change from its last poll in mid-September, when Proposition 22 led by a similar 39-36 spread. The only other poll we’ve seen was a late September SurveyUSA poll that had the measure in better shape with a 45-31 edge.
Ride-share and app-based delivery companies have long classified their drivers as independent contractors rather than as employees, which meant that these businesses didn’t need to pay for benefits like health care, unemployment insurance, or expense reimbursement. A 2018 California Supreme Court ruling and subsequent state law, though, made it much more difficult for gig companies to designate workers this way.
Uber and Lyft, which argue that they’re tech businesses rather than transportation companies, have continued to classify their drivers as contractors, which led to a lawsuit from state Attorney General Xavier Becerra and several city attorneys. On Thursday, a state appeals court upheld a lower court ruling saying that these ride-share companies needed to treat their drivers in California as employees. The ruling is on hold for now, though, and if Proposition 22 prevails next week, it would never go into effect.
The ride-share companies have warned that the failure of Proposition 22 would impose massive costs on them that would lead to far fewer drivers in California and higher prices for customers. The measure’s opponents, meanwhile, have argued that a win for the yes side would harm drivers, with Rep. Barbara Lee declaring, “You have very clearly crossed the line when you try to claim the equity mantle for a campaign that has always been about allowing multibillion-dollar app companies to write their own law so that they can keep exploiting the labor of drivers, eight in 10 of whom are people of color.”
If Proposition 22 succeeds, it would be extremely difficult to change. The measure would require seven-eighths of each chamber of the legislature to make any amendments, an unprecedented threshold that makes major alterations all but impossible. Local governments would also not be able to require companies to provide additional benefits or protections for their gig workers. Another ballot measure could be passed by voters to replace Proposition 22, but as this year’s campaign shows, gig companies would spend whatever it takes to stop anything they opposed.