Ride share sign.
A sign marks a rendezvous location for Lyft and Uber users at San Diego State University. REUTERS/Mike Blake.

The mayors of two of California’s three largest cities said Wednesday the looming shutdown of Uber and Lyft in the state will cause “irreparable harm upon hundreds of thousands of residents” during the pandemic.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo called on the state Court of Appeal to stop a Superior Court injunction against the rideshare companies that takes effect Friday.

“As the Republican and Democratic mayors of two of California’s three largest cities, we have serious concerns that this Friday, most of California’s nearly one million gig workers will lose their rideshare income when Uber and Lyft shut down their operations in the Golden State,” the mayors said in a statement. “This sudden disappearance of jobs and transportation options will only deepen the economic pain felt in our communities during this historic pandemic and recession.”

The two companies have been ordered to covert their workforce from independent contractors to traditional shift employees by Friday under controversial Assembly Bill 5. The companies say the transition will take months, and have threatened to shut down in California until after the November election, when possible passage of Proposition 22 would free them from the new law.

The mayors said Uber and Lyft provide critical transportation services to seniors, medical patients and essential workers in addition to providing income for nearly a million drivers.

“We ask that the Court of Appeal grant Uber and Lyft’s writ petitions and stay the injunction that would require these companies to restructure their entire operations virtually overnight,” the mayors said. “A stay could provide an opportunity for parties to come together with state leaders to negotiate a resolution to this complex issue and avoid irreparable harm upon hundreds of thousands of residents whose lives and livelihoods daily depend on these services.”

The mayors suggested that California use the impasse as an opportunity to create a national model for the growing gig economy rather than simply shut it down.

AB 5 was sponsored by San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and backed by labor unions, which see the law as a way to organize more workers.

“Now, Uber is cruelly lying to their drivers & riders, saying the state is forcing them to temporarily shut down. That’s a lie. They’ve known about this for years,” Gonzalez tweeted on Wednesday.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.