As an independent news outlet, we enjoy the privilege of covering issues that bigger outlets won’t. At Los Angeleno, we write about people, places and idiosyncrasies with local impact and beyond. Your support is vital for us to continue doing so.
A former Uber and Lyft driver explains why he gives Proposition 22 zero stars.
There are many solid reasons why you should ignore the non-stop commercials funded by the giant ride-hailing and food delivery companies and vote no on this bizarre and poorly-written proposition that will not make things better for drivers or passengers.
1. Drivers would make well below minimum wage.
The companies supporting Proposition 22 claim that it would guarantee drivers compensation equal to 120% of the minimum wage — plus 30 cents per mile — which is true. But the catch is that it would only kick in while there is a passenger in the vehicle.
How can this be? Well, as any experienced driver can tell you — and I’ve done over 5,000 trips — for the majority of the time, you are either waiting for your phone to ding, waiting for your passenger to stop primping and walk out to meet you, or driving to the pick-up location. Even on a busy party weekend (remember those?), for three-quarters of the time that you are “driving for Uber,” you do not have a paying customer in your vehicle.
If these companies wanted to do the right thing, they would pay drivers starting from the time they open the app, thus making their vehicle available to passengers.
Tucked inside Proposition 22 is a clause that says the only way to amend this stinker would require a supermajority in the state Assembly.
When was the last time you could get seven out of eight of your closest friends to agree on something as simple as what to watch on Netflix? There is a reason that Proposition 22 includes this clause. And it’s because getting seven out of eight lawmakers from this gigantic and diverse state to agree on amending the law would be damn near impossible.
This clause is a red flag. It is the equivalent of DJ Khaled screaming “You played yourself!” It is proof that Uber and Lyft know their proposition is problematic and that they will do anything to lock it in if they’re lucky enough to pass it.
3. Ride-hailing will improve once Assembly Bill 5 is adhered to.
Supporters of Proposition 22 are trying to scare both drivers and passengers into thinking that if it doesn’t pass, Uber and Lyft will just bail from the state, leaving Californians without any ride-hailing options.
Calling a taxi — or driving drunk — will be our only choice, they want us to believe.
But think about it. California has the fifth-largest economy in the world. Cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco are ideal for ride-hailing services, as there is a lot to do and parking is usually difficult to find.
If Uber decided to pull out of the state, why would Lyft follow along?
Why wouldn’t they embrace the virtual monopoly, raise fares to 2014 levels — which few passengers ever complained about — and enjoy a competitor-free environment? It’d never happen.
There’s nothing these two love doing more than figuring out ways to lose money. Forfeiting their home state’s unfettered revenues to the other would be even beneath their level of foolishness.
There will be ride-hailing in the future. Of course, there will be.
4. Neither Uber nor Lyft have ever supported drivers. This proposition would only make things worse.
These ride-hailing companies have a long history of providing laughable customer service to drivers through offshore support via phone and email. They have also deactivated countless drivers for questionable reasons with little explanation.
And they shut down the majority of the scant few in-person service locations where drivers could do things like get their vehicles inspected, ask questions or pick up window decals and other necessities for the gig.
Their lack of excitement to help the people driving the cars that generate the dollars was painfully obvious.
Even when these locations were open, they kept banking hours and often closed on weekends.
These companies constantly slashed fares and increased their share of the pie until most drivers found that there was no incentive to make enduring the drunks, the traffic or the wear-and-tear of their cars worthwhile.
Two-thirds of drivers quit within their first year. The best way to change this dynamic would be to make drivers employees who are paid reasonably and treated fairly. By skirting AB 5 through Proposition 22, the quality of drivers will also continue to sink, as these companies will only be able to “employ” the most desperate job-seekers, not the most professional.
5. Companies shouldn’t be able to buy elections.
Sure, call us naive, but laws should not change because a few companies teamed up and flooded the airwaves with a record amount of misinformation.
Proponents of 22 have spent $628,854 a day from the beginning of this cursed year through mid-October to prevent drivers from becoming employees.
Ironically, most drivers don’t want to become Uber or Lyft employees for many reasons. Last year I talked for hours with Uber and Lyft drivers in a crowded LAX waiting lot, and they clearly said they’d rather quit than be employees.
They’ve been treated poorly, but they enjoy the freedom of never having to check in to start or stop working. These drivers are independent spirits with complicated lives.
“I’ve got four kids. This is the first year for me where they’re in four different schools. So there’s drop-off, pick-up, in the morning, the afternoon,” one driver told me about his busy schedule as a working parent. For him, driving for these companies fit in nicely into his schedule while the kids are at school.
Yet, if Proposition 22 was legit, these companies wouldn’t be throwing so much money at it. They’d have at least 200,000 drivers singing its praises. But even drivers see through it.
Uber and Lyft could have invested all those millions into the things that drivers actually want: easily accessible service via phone, email, chat, or in-person; a reasonable wage; and a reciprocal and respectful relationship.
Spending a record amount of money to stop drivers from having the same treatment that a janitor at Uber’s HQ receives is a slap in the face, and everyone knows it.
Every successful company has had employees … somehow. Uber and Lyft can figure out how to do it, too. All they need to do is raise rates by 30%-40%, and your driver can go to the doctor when he’s sick.