Today’s Solutions: May 19, 2022

Uber and Lyft employees used to have to work 50 hour work weeks to make a livable wage as independent contractors. This week, with the passing of senate bill AB 5, these workers will get fairer labor conditions and even healthcare coverage. The bill requires companies to hire these workers as employees, rather than contractors, meaning hundreds of thousands of California workers will now be eligible for labor protections such as unemployment insurance, health care subsidies, paid parental leave, overtime pay, workers’ compensation, paid rest breaks, and a guaranteed $12 minimum hourly wage. 

This significantly impacts app-based gig companies which lobbied aggressively against the bill. Their argument is that contract work gives employees the flexibility to work as much or as little as they would like. However, Uber drivers like Anette Rivero are grateful for the bill: “I am now in a position to earn a living wage,” she said, “I will be able to spend time with my four children and complete my college degree.”

California has historically been on the forefront of progressive labor laws and this bill, which passed 29-11, is no exception. The bill is a landmark opportunity for workers, even in modern sectors such as app-based employment, to have job security, safety nets, and the possibility to unionize for perhaps the first time.

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