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Car rally in Orange County rails against Proposition 22

A driver with Uber and Lyft stickers and a "No on Prop 22" sign on his window pulls up at a rally in Orange.
A rideshare driver with a “No on Prop 22" sign on his window pulls up at a rally in Orange. If Proposition 22 passes, it would classify certain app-based drivers who work for rideshare and delivery companies as independent contractors.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Opponents of the upcoming ballot measure Proposition 22, including rideshare drivers, labor organizations and elected officials, descended upon central Orange County on Friday.

If approved, the ballot initiative would classify certain app-based drivers who work for rideshare and delivery companies as independent contractors.

Being an independent contractor has appeal to many for the flexibility, but others say the shine began to wear off for some app-based drivers because of a decrease in wages. That decrease was among the reasons that about 50 people decided to demonstrate.

A car caravan made its way from Santa Ana City Hall to Anaheim City Hall and culminated with a news conference in Orange.

The Orange County Health Care Agency on Friday reported 10 new deaths related to the coronavirus, bringing the death toll to 1,401.

Marie Harrison, 71, of Garden Grove said she began driving for Uber five years ago. She was one of the organizing members of the car rally for Rideshare Drivers United.

Uber and Lyft driver Marie Harrison, 71 of Garden Grove, spoke at press conference about voting no on Proposition 22.
Marie Harrison, 71, of Garden Grove, stopped driving for Uber and Lyft when the pandemic hit. At her age, Harrison says she’s at “high risk” to get COVID-19.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

“In 2015, when I started driving, I was earning a $1.20 per mile,” Harrison said. “Today, it’s 60 cents per mile with added bogus charges built in for themselves, which means the rate has been reduced by 70% to the drivers.

“I now have 167,000 miles on my car with not one penny of reimbursement for maintenance, repairs, insurance and registration. The fact is it’s the drivers who own the fleet used by Lyft and Uber, so we should be paid for the use of our vehicles.”

Harrison, who raised four children in Huntington Beach, said that she is not sure how she is supposed to buy another car if hers breaks down and added that people have asked her why she doesn’t get “a real job.”

“I say to them, ‘OK, you go when you’re 71 and try and get any kind of job?’” she said. “There’s no way. They won’t hire you.”

This is about new labor-management rules in California for the 21st century gig economy. Or trying to use the same old rules.

More than $185 million has been raised in support of Proposition 22, and there is a heavy presence of pro-Proposition 22 commercials on television. The advertisements oppose Assembly Bill 5, recently passed legislation that requires that independent contractors be reclassified as employees and given various labor protections such as minimum wage, paid sick leave and unemployment insurance.

App-based driver companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash have claimed that reclassifying their drivers as employees is an unsustainable model in the state. Under Proposition 22, app-based drivers would be entitled to 120% of the local minimum wage for each hour spent driving and a health insurance stipend if a certain number of hours are worked per week.

Josh Newman, a Democrat running for state senate in the 29th district, argues that the ballot initiative is more than an attempt to overturn state law.

“What we’re seeing is the value of money, the impact of money on our politics,” Newman said. “The rideshare companies, that consortium has spent over $100 million in support of Prop 22. That is nothing less than an attempt to buy a share, to buy their part of the California state constitution, and we cannot let that happen because … that is a massively bad precedent. We will all regret it.”

Gloria Alvarado, the executive director of the Orange County Labor Federation, pointed to a giant inflatable rat behind her as she addressed those in attendance at the rally, saying, “This is greed. This is how bad they become.”

“There is no other better investment in our communities for our economies than a well-paid worker,” Alvarado added. “We consume, we vote, we spend our money, we live, we pay rent, we pay taxes. What else can we say? We are our communities.”

Union members rally against Proposition 22.
Union members rally against Proposition 22, in solidarity with Uber and Lyft drivers, at the IBEW headquarters in Orange.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

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