Is it appropriate to call Prop 22’s recent victory, in which it took nearly 59% of the vote, a landslide? Or is “landslide” more of a term applicable to human wins?
In any case, this was a human win. Now California rideshare drivers can be lawfully classified as independent contractors, in accordance with the majority of drivers’ wishes, and thus benefit from the freedom, flexibility, spontaneity, and latitude that accompany independent contractor status.
Is everything perfect now? No, of course not. Many drivers still find themselves overworked and underpaid. Many companies still wrongfully apply indie contractor status to workers more properly classified as employees. But the solution was never AB5, California’s own little (read: gigantic) way of making 2020 even harder than the gods initially intended it to be. AB5, which was originally dreamed up to go after rideshare companies, essentially made all California workers employees until proven indie contractors. For many, retaining independent contractor status now means subjecting oneself to a pressure headache of regulatory checklists, many of which are weighed down by grayed-out, ambiguous muddle.
Now, though, courtesy of California’s collective YES on Prop 22, the rideshare element of AB5 has been removed, yielding the poor law a monster without a head, and leaving the public (and, one hopes, the state government) unsure as to AB5’s precise place, meaning, and purpose.
To be sure, it’s still the law of the land. All those who hire and/or get hired have to grow well acquainted with its contours, lest we wish to face fines and government-waged lawsuits. But nonetheless, the government would be wise to hear the will of the people. Said will has already been honored in the course of the legislature trimming down and scaling back the law. And now the people have taken the next reasonable step of ripping its goddamn head off. With its ostensible native function gone, the only horizon that remains is the R-word, even though the state has kicked and screamed to resist it:
Repeal AB5. Do it right away. It still fogs up the Golden State with doubt and panic. It’s preventing our economy’s heart from beating. And it’s a less good idea than ideas yet to be dreamed up, ones whereby disadvantaged workers can be well taken care of without raining collateral damage on ones who are perfectly content.
What the government shouldn’t do is tow the party line, trusting cynical Prop 22 debriefings wherein rushed columnists viewing the situation through a telescope have declared, “Uber bought itself a law!” or “Sheesh, California really does have itself a conservative streak!”
Nonsense. This was a landslide win. AB5 is a rude feat of micromanagement. And Americans, conservative or liberal, prefer to be free.