San Diego Lyft drivers expressed fear for their jobs, employment flexibility and livelihoods Monday as passage of the “gig economy” bill nears in Sacramento.
Six drivers gathered outside the WeWork offices in downtown San Diego to explain why they don’t want to become shift employees as would be required under Assembly Bill 5.
“I pray that they don’t pass this bill because we’re fighting for our jobs,” said Kevin Cotton, a Spring Valley resident who retired for the Navy two years ago and has health issues.
Lyft estimates that under some scenarios as many as 300,000 drivers in California could lose their jobs after Jan. 1 if the bill passes.
The drivers gathered Monday cited flexibility, health issues and age discrimination as reasons why working for Lyft is preferable to a traditional shift job.
Ana Bradford, 64, a resident of Serra Mesa, said driving for Lyft supplements Social Security payments while allowing the flexibility to work while her 6-year-old grandson in in school.
“A 9-to-5 job is not going to work for me. I’m going to have to look for a night job,” she said.
The legislation by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez will be debated in the state Senate this week and is likely to pass. Gov. Gavin Newsom has vowed to sign it.
The bill would affect an estimated 2 million Californians who are independent contractors, requiring them to become shift employees under labor laws. A number of industries, from doctors to insurance agents, have managed to gain care-outs in the legislation, but hundreds of occupations from musicians to computer programmers to journalists will be affected.
Labor unions have aggressively backed the bill because workers who are employees are easier to organize than those who are contractors.
Lyft and competitor Uber have proposed legislation to allow unionization of rideshare employees, and also threatened to spend millions of dollars to overturn Assembly Bill 5 with a ballot measure next year.
Mark Hartzell, a former computer programmer who said age discrimination cost him his job, said he enjoys driving for Lyft in two-hour increments, adding up to about eight hours in a day.
“I very well may stop driving,” he lamented. “To go back to a normal schedule — it’s not an option for me.”
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