Gig workers, SEIU file lawsuit alleging Prop 22 is unconstitutional

Megan Rose Dickey
·2 min read
Members of the Independent Drivers Guild take part on the solidarity rally in support of drivers at the Uber and Lyft New York City Headquaters on May 8, 2019. - Rideshare drivers in major US cities were set to stage a series of strikes and protests Wednesday, casting a shadow over the keenly anticipated Wall Street debut of sector leader Uber. The app drivers for Uber, Lyft, Via and other platforms are seeking improved job security, including an end to arbitrary "deactivations," and a better revenue split between drivers and platforms. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

A group of rideshare drivers in California and the Service Employees International Union filed a lawsuit today alleging Proposition 22 violates California's constitution. The goal of the suit is to overturn Prop 22, which classifies gig workers as independent contractors in California.

The suit, filed in California's Supreme Court, argues Prop 22 makes it harder for the state's legislature to create and enforce a workers' compensation system for gig workers. It also argues Prop 22 violates the rule that limits ballot measures to a single issue, as well as unconstitutionally defines what would count as an amendment to the measure. As it stands today, Prop 22 requires a seven-eights legislative supermajority in order to amend the measure.

"Every day, rideshare drivers like me struggle to make ends meet because companies like Uber and Lyft prioritize corporate profits over our well-being," Saori Okawa, a plaintiff in the case, said in a statement. "With Prop 22, they’re not just ignoring our health and safety — they’re discarding our state’s constitution. I’m joining this lawsuit because I know it’s up to the people we elect to make our laws, not wealthy executives who profit from our labor. I’m confident the court will see Prop 22 for the corporate power grab that it is, and that Prop 22 will live in infamy along with unconstitutional ballot measures like Prop 8 and Prop 187."

This suit is the latest in a long battle between gig workers and tech companies. Meanwhile, Uber and Lyft have their eyes on pursuing Prop 22-like legislation elsewhere. Given Uber and Lyft’s anti-gig-workers-as-employees stance, it came as no surprise when Uber and Lyft separately said they would pursue similar legislation in other parts of the country and the world.

Uber, Lyft and DoorDash were not immediately available for comment. But the group behind Yes on 22, Protect App Based Jobs & Services, provided a statement to TechCrunch:

"Nearly 10 million California voters -- including the vast majority of app-based drivers -- passed Prop 22 to protect driver independence, while providing historic new protections," Jim Pyatt, an Uber driver who supported Prop 22, said in a statement. "Voters across the political spectrum spoke loud and clear, passing Prop 22 in a landslide. Meritless lawsuits that seek to undermine the clear democratic will of the people do not stand up to scrutiny in the courts."