Today is election day in the United States. In a country with deep internal division, there’s more on the ballot than choosing the next President. In California, Uber and Lyft are hoping voters will approve Prop 22, a controversial ballot initiative.
Prop 22 Will Chart Future Of Ride Sharing In California
I’ve discussed the issue before, but briefly California voters will decide today whether Uber, Lyft, and other app-based services can continue to hire drivers as independent contracts.
Per the California Voter Guide:
App-based rideshare and delivery companies could hire drivers as independent contractors. Drivers could decide when, where, and how much to work but would not get standard benefits and protections that businesses must provide employees.
App-based rideshare and delivery companies would have to hire drivers as employees if the courts say that a recent state law makes drivers employees. Drivers would have less choice about when, where, and how much to work but would get standard benefits and protections that businesses must provide employees.
I certainly have a strong opinion on the ballot measure, but that’s really not the point in this post. Instead, I want to focus on how Uber has tried to influence its riders over Prop 22.
How Uber Is Trying To Influence California Voters
When you request a ride on Uber in California, you are first greeted with a warning. Uber warns that if Prop 22 does not pass, ride prices could rise by 25-100% and my area (Los Angeles) may lose ride service.
As your ride confirms, Uber reminds you that 72% of drivers allegedly support Prop 22.
It’s a poignant way to campaign to a captive audience. Uber and Lyft have also spent millions of dollars in ads across mediums. Too bad those dollars could not have gone to workers and solved this issue without such a spectacularly expensive campaign.
Doomsday warnings are often overblown, but I cannot see the thus-far unprofitable Uber/Lyft business model working if drivers are employees rather than independent contractors. People won’t pay taxi prices for Uber X. I certainly will not. We should know in the days ahead about the future of ride sharing in California. Until them, Uber is continuing to campaign hard.