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Uber, Lyft Push Back Against California Gig Worker Law

Uber and Lyft are organizing and pushing back against a California law that takes effect on Jan. 1 and would force them to classify their drivers as employees rather than independent contractors, a move that would compel the companies to provide things like a minimum wage and health benefits, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

The law created a test that a company has to pass to figure out whether workers can be classified as contractors or not. The state government can sue companies that aren’t compliant, and the legislator who wrote the law is encouraging cities to file lawsuits on Jan. 1.

Uber and Lyft have formed a coalition to get signatures and “fix” the legislation. The companies argue that they provide technology that links drivers and riders, and therefore aren’t subject to the law. 

The coalition has amassed about $100 million to run a campaign to exempt them from the law. The also want to revisit the issue with legislators.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said that it’s important workers get treated fairly.

“We have a track record of taking on such cases, whether it’s making sure workers receive proper health care or are paid what they’ve earned,” he said.

The companies need over 623,000 signatures to get a measure on the ballot. Stacey Wells, a spokeswoman for the coalition, said the signature collection will begin in January, and that the coalition will do “whatever it takes to mount a full-scale ballot campaign that is successful in November, including advertising and whatever you might typically see from a campaign.”

The proposed measure is called the Protect App-Based Drivers and Services Act.

Uber and Lyft say that reclassifying workers would mean that they would have to severely change the way they do business. 

Uber said that as a result of the new law it “would likely hire far fewer drivers than we currently support, and we’d likely have to require a minimum number of hours per week.”

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