Good News! California's Prop 22 Passes Decisively, Defeating Big Labor's Power Grab

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File

While Californians re-elected some extremely questionable super progressive Democrats, and possibly even replaced a Democrat District Attorney in Los Angeles County with a Soros DA, in the only statewide contests on the ballot they overwhelmingly voted for the conservative position.

In addition to rejecting a return to affirmative action, as my colleague Alex Parker covered, California voters overwhelmingly voted to protect an individual’s right to contract, rejecting Big Labor’s attempt to take over the app-based gig economy in passing Proposition 22.

Proposition 22, as I wrote last week, exempts app-based gig economy drivers from California’s terrible AB5 law and allows them to continue to work as independent contractors while mandating that the companies provide health insurance subsidies, an earnings floor, and other protections for the drivers. In essence, the proposition’s passage allowed the companies to continue operating in California.

As I also wrote last week, the companies proposed the provisions of Proposition 22 back in 2019 as a compromise while AB5 was being considered by the legislature. The bill’s author, Asm. Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher (D, AFL-CIO), said, “Kiss my grits,” and today the app-based gig companies said, “Back atcha!”

The Los Angeles Times eviscerated “state lawmakers,” saying that their failure to strike a deal with app-based companies was a huge mistake, but they really meant Asm. Lorena Gonzalez (D, AFL-CIO).

State lawmakers had the chance last year to strike a deal with app-based companies to boost the benefits and protections that workers on their platforms would receive. They didn’t, and in hindsight, that looks to be a terrible mistake.

AB 5 codified a 2018 state Supreme Court ruling that required companies to treat more independent contractors as employees. Instead of creating a third category of protections for gig workers, which would have been the far-sighted thing to do, labor-friendly Democrats in the Legislature spurned overtures from Uber et al….

The Yes on 22 campaign did an excellent job of messaging, as the Times also noted, making the No on 22 crowd look like job killers:

[T]he app companies — many of which have not been profitable — argued that they wouldn’t be able to afford the increased costs unless they radically changed their their business models. Instead of allowing drivers to work on demand, when they wanted and where they wanted, they would have to schedule driver shifts and territories. Plus, they contended, they would need dramatically fewer drivers, given that the vast majority of gig workers now put in only a few hours a week. The Yes on 22 campaign augmented their pitch with drivers in televison ads urging voters to let them continue to do the jobs they need and love the way they’d been doing them.

That left the No on 22 campaign struggling to explain why the state should force changes in the app companies’ business model that threatened those jobs. After all, the proponents argued, no one is forced to work for Uber or Postmates. People who didn’t like the miserly pay and limited benefits provided by Proposition 22 don’t have to drive for those companies.

Gonzalez-Fletcher was characteristically salty in defeat. Defeating Proposition 22 was her main concern during this cycle, but she was almost equally as passionate about ensuring that Proposition 16 (to bring back racial preferences) passed. It was a tough night for a woman used to getting her way by whatever means necessary.

What she can do to help working Californians is to get the heck out of their way, and retire.

Proposition 22’s passage gives hope for a full repeal of AB5 during the next legislative session, and for thwarting Gonzalez-Fletcher’s planned 2022 Secretary of State run.