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Gig drivers in California file lawsuit to repeal Prop 22 ballot measure

It’ll be an uphill battle, but the organizers are determined to be classified as employees

Photo (c) Andrei Stanescu - Getty Images
Here we go again. Lyft and Uber drivers in California have filed a lawsuit to try to overturn Prop 22, a ballot measure passed in November that allowed ride-hailing companies to avoid classifying drivers as employees. 

Under the new law, benefits given to drivers for ride-sharing companies would be less than those afforded to real “employees.” Opponents say it also strips the state legislature’s ability to empower workers to organize a union and “illegally” cuts ride-hailing drivers from California’s state workers’ compensation program.

“Every day, rideshare drivers like me struggle to make ends meet because companies like Uber and Lyft prioritize corporate profits over our wellbeing,” plaintiff Saori Okawa said in a statement. “With Prop 22, they’re not just ignoring our health and safety — they’re discarding our state’s constitution.”

Uphill battle

As it is with many ballot initiatives, getting the word out can produce yays or nays at the polls. Companies like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash poured over $200 million into the “Yes on 22” campaign, claiming that Prop 22 would strip the flexibility of gig drivers, increase consumer prices, and extend wait times. 

Unfortunately for Prop 22 opponents, they simply didn’t have the campaign funds to compete and sell their side of the story to the public.

Overturning Prop 22 is an uphill battle. In reviewing the lawsuit, The Verge’s Andrew J. Hawkins says the measure was written in such a way that it could withstand challenges down the road -- one of the more problematic ones being a provision that requires a seven-eighths majority of the state legislature for any modification.

Hawkins says that gig drivers are trying to argue that Prop 22 was illegal from its get-go. And while other groups have been lucky enough to get certain California ballot measures repealed in the past, they’ve achieved that through additional ballot measures -- a step that drivers and supportive unions are going to have to take if the lawsuit fails.

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