Uber, Lyft have a California playbook to fight proposed U.S. rules on workers
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Uber, Lyft and other gig-economy companies face a new challenge from the Biden administration to their use of contract workers, but as they gear up for a fight in Washington they could turn to a lobbying playbook that helped them score a decisive win against California regulators last year.
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U.S. President Joe Biden campaigned on the promise of providing legal protections and benefits to gig workers, who as independent contractors generally have no access to unemployment insurance, sick pay and health insurance. U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said last week: "A lot of gig workers should be classified as employees."
In Congress, Democratic lawmakers are pushing a union-supported labor bill, the PRO Act, that in part is modeled after a California law called AB5 that reclassified most gig workers as employees.
UBER AND LYFT MUST CLASSIFY CALIFORNIA DRIVERS AS EMPLOYEES, NOT INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS: JUDGE
AB5, however, is no longer the law in California for ride-hail and food delivery workers, while it remains in effect for other freelancers. Uber Technologies Inc., DoorDash Inc. and Instacart, whose business model relies on low-cost flexible labor, mounted a $205 million campaign that overturned the law for the industry last November.
Among the tactics honed in the California fight, the gig-work companies used their apps to reach out to voters and drivers through messages, emails, mailed leaflets, billboards, radio and online ads. They also urged workers on their platforms to speak out against AB5.