One would think California’s left-leaning politicians have better things to do than dump on the state’s already fragile economy. Sadly, it seems that this isn’t the case.
The California Court of Appeals has ruled that Uber and Lyft can no longer classify their drivers as contractors. Rather, they must be considered employees who are entitled to a minimum salary, compensation benefits, health benefits, and the right to unionize.
Uber and Lyft aren’t immediately heading for the exit as they initially threatened because there is a ballot measure, Proposition 22, set for a November 3 vote that could invalidate the ruling. However, if the proposition fails to pass, both Uber and Lyft have made it clear that they will no longer continue operating in the state.
Both companies have also made clear that their departure would have dire implications for the hundreds of thousands of people who earn a living via ride-sharing services. In fact, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is warning the state that 158,000 work opportunities would be eliminated throughout the state if California forced Uber and Lyft to hire all its drivers as full-time employees.
At the same time, there are also literally millions of people throughout the state who rely on Uber and Lyft’s driving services — not to make a living, but to travel. Elderly individuals who can’t drive, low-income individuals who don’t own a car, and sick and injured individuals who are temporarily unable to drive rely on ride-sharing services to get to doctor’s appointments without undue delay.
As medical professionals in other states have rightly pointed out, Medicaid’s transport service doesn’t handle same-day requests, and there are times when a patient needs to immediately head out to see a doctor for one reason or another. Without ride-sharing services, such patients would lose access to timely medical care. Naturally, California has not thought to offer any sort of alternative for those who rely on Uber and Lyft for such essential services.
The huge loss in jobs and the ability to travel freely may not remain limited to the state of California. Former Vice President Joe Biden has praised California’s AB5 bill that was the driving force behind restricting Uber’s and Lyft’s ability to hire drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. Should the Democrats win both houses of Congress and the White House in the upcoming election, tens of millions of people could be impacted.
While California has always been further left than most of the nation, what happens in the state could soon play out nationwide. That should alarm anyone who enjoys the ability to work independently without government involvement.