That said, Scott still loves choosing his own hours, 20 to 25 a week, and he’s not really bothered by the fact that independent contractors, as defined by Prop. 22, don’t have the same protections as employees under California law.
He said what bothers him most, aside from making less money, is his sense that the company is driving out gig workers like him — who remember the days before Prop. 22 and can see the work is becoming less profitable — and relying on high turnover to pull in new people who can’t remember when drivers made more.
“There’s no reward for loyalty. You just kind of always feel like you’re replaceable,” Scott said.
The percentage of rideshare drivers who are full time versus part time has been a point of contention between union-friendly Democratic lawmakers in California and the rideshare companies. A report published last year by UC Riverside’s Center for Economic Forecasting and Development for the industry-backed drivers’ coalition found “only 23% of drivers report working with platforms on what would conventionally be considered a full-time basis.”
In a recent talk before The Economic Club of Chicago, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the weakening economy is bringing more drivers — he calls them “earners” — online.
“About 70% of our earners are saying inflation is actually one of the reasons why they’re coming on to the platform, because they can earn flexibly. And they can, you know, earn another $500 a week for groceries or whatever else they need to live,” Khosrowshahi said.
If drivers are only making a little extra money with the platforms versus relying on the driving for their livelihoods, labor lawyers say, it’s easier for gig companies to argue they aren’t exploiting the drivers by refusing to provide them the benefits employees would receive — or exploiting taxpayers by socializing the costs drivers can’t afford to cover on their own.
“We saw this during the pandemic, right after Proposition 22 was enacted,” said Fisk, of UC Berkeley. “Every other employer had paid into the unemployment system. So when their workers became unemployed, they could file a claim for unemployment and be compensated. Uber and Lyft exempted themselves from the unemployment system. Their drivers were left penniless. So what did the companies say? ‘Congress has created a system for independent contractors. You should apply to that.’ Who was paying for that? The taxpayers.”
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