New ballot measure targeting California’s AB5 gains steam

Protect Drivers measure

A California measure that would allow app-based drivers to work independently while providing them with benefits has collected about one-third of the signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot, intensifying pressure against AB5, the controversial state law limiting the use of contract labor.

Funded by gig economy giants Uber (NYSE: UBER), Lyft ( NASDAQ: LYFT), and DoorDash, the Protect App-Based Drivers & Services Act focuses on drivers who work for rideshare or restaurant and grocery delivery services such as DoorDash and UberEats. It does not cover owner-operators in trucking, as that employment structure is “a completely different model” from app-based work, campaign spokesperson Stacey Wells explained to FreightWaves.

App-based delivery platforms “enable truly unique on-demand work, providing complete flexibility and control over when, where and how [drivers] work,” she said in an email.

The Act, which needs 623,212 signatures to qualify for California’s November ballot, would change employment classification rules so app-based drivers could continue to work as independent contractors — while providing them with earning guarantees and benefits.

So far more than 230,000 Californians have signed the petition in the first three weeks of the campaign.

Since the scope of the measure is limited to rideshare or delivery services provided by passenger vehicles, bikes, scooters, walking and public transportation, the California Trucking Association has not taken a position on the measure, Vice President of Government Affairs Chris Shimoda told FreightWaves.

Joe Rajkovacz, director of government affairs for the Western States Trucking Association, is also staying neutral.

That said, any effort “to water down AB5,” even by select industries, “just magnifies how wrong it was for the legislature to rush this through just to placate trial lawyers and unions,” Rajkovacz opined.

Backers of the Act expect to collect approximately 1 million signatures — exceeding the number of valid signatures required to qualify the measure for the November ballot.

The initiative joins a flurry of legal actions filed by diverse groups opposed to AB5. A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction indefinitely halting the implementation of AB5 for trucking. Two freelance journalist groups have also filed a lawsuit, alleging that AB5 unconstitutionally restricts free speech and the media.

Labor, community and port trucking groups defend the new law, saying it prevents exploitation of misclassified workers.