UC Santa Cruz study cited in arguments against gig economy proposition

A survey of app-based ride-hailing and food and grocery-delivery workers by UC Santa Cruz researchers was cited in arguments against Proposition 22 in the California Voter Guide.

The report, “On-demand and on-the-edge: Ride-hailing and Delivery Workers in San Francisco,” underscores the financial vulnerability of workers in the gig economy.

Lead researcher Chris Benner, a professor of environmental studies and sociology and the director of the Institute for Social Transformation, said it’s great to see the research being used to inform the debate over Prop. 22.

“Our research makes clear that so-called ‘gig workers’ are living on the edge, and value fair pay and employment protections as much as they value flexibility in when they work. I’m pleased that these findings are being shared with the 21 million California registered voters who will receive the official voter guide”

The proposition—if passed—would exempt app-based drivers from California employment law designed to narrow who is classified as “independent contractors,” instead of “employees,” and provide independent-contractor drivers other compensation, unless certain criteria are met, according to the voter guide.

If the proposition passes, app-based rideshare and delivery companies could hire drivers legally as independent contractors, but workers would not get standard benefits and protections that businesses must provide employees.

If the proposition fails, app-based rideshare and delivery companies would have to hire drivers as employees and would get standard benefits and protections that businesses must provide employees.

Authors of this measure contend it is needed to protect jobs and allow app-based drivers to remain independent contractors.

Benner says that the rideshare and delivery companies backing Proposition 22 like to portray it as a choice between flexibility and employment protections, but that this is misleading.

“Our research shows that the majority of the services provided by these companies is done by people who work full time and for whom this is their only source of income,” Benner said. “There is no reason these companies can’t provide work flexibility for some people who need it while also meeting for all their workers the normal employment standards we expect of all employers in California.”