California Voters Chose Uber Over Employment Law—What it Means for the U.S.

After the most expensive initiative campaign in California history, California voters approved Proposition 22 by a wide margin. The consequences of the vote could go national.

2 minute read

November 10, 2020, 12:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Transportation Network Companies

Filip Frącz / Flickr

"Californians decisively determined the future of ride-hailing and delivery apps, as 58 percent voted that drivers should be classified as independent contractors, rather than employees," report Faiz Siddiqui and Nitasha Tiku.

"The state ballot measure, Proposition 22, will make drivers independent contractors according to California law," explains the article. "That supersedes a new law, known as A.B. 5, intended to grant drivers full employment, including minimum wage protections, health care and such benefits as unemployment and sick leave."

"Gig economy" companies like Uber and Lyft spent a total of $200 million on Prop. 22—setting a record for election spending on ballot propositions in the state and raising numerous allegations of untruthful campaigning in the process, as documented in the article.

Whatever money these companies spent, and public good will they burned in the process, might come to be just an investment toward similar laws to be replicated around the country, according to the article. A surprising ally in that effort is identified fairly far down in the feature-length article: Former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation and former Mayor of Charlotte Anthony Foxx, who is now Lyft's chief policy officer.

"I think Prop 22 has now created a structure for us to discuss with leaders in other states and Washington, potentially,”" Foxx is quote as saying in the article. "We think that prop 22 has now created a model that can be replicated and can be scaled."

In a separate article on the same Subject, Camille Squires digs further into the potential for "gig economy" companies to spread the model presented by Prop. 22 to other parts of the country. An article by Jeremy B. White includes soundbites from Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi echoing the words of former Secretary Foxx, as well.

And, in the bleak days of uncertainty following the election, Proposition 22 was one source of satirical ire from fake news site The Onion, which headlined a totally fictional, made up article on the subject thusly: "Passed California Ballot Measure Allows Uber, Lyft To Categorize Workers As Car Parts."

Wednesday, November 4, 2020 in The Washington Post

Red on white 'Room for Rent, Inquire Inside' sign

In Most U.S. Cities, Archaic Laws Limit Roommate Living

Critics argue laws preventing unrelated adults from living in the same home fail to understand the modern American household.

May 24, 2023 - The Atlantic

Vancouver Chuck Wolfe

Ten Signs of a Resurgent Downtown

In GeekWire, Chuck Wolfe continues his exploration of a holistic and practical approach to post-pandemic urban center recovery, anchored in local context and community-driven initiatives that promote livability, safety, and sustainability.

May 24, 2023 - GeekWire

New York MTA subway station

Off-Peak is the New On-Peak

Public transit systems in major U.S. cities are starting to focus on non-rush hour travelers as pre-pandemic commuting patterns shift and transportation needs change.

May 19, 2023 - Curbed

View of Colorado River from top of Hoover Dam with concrete column on left

The New Colorado River Deal: An Explainer

According to one analyst, the agreement approved by the states doesn’t go nearly far enough to protect the river in the long term.

29 minutes ago - The Land Desk

View of cars stuck in gridlocked traffic with traffic lights in background

Research Indicates the Large Potential Benefits of Parking Cash-Out Laws

‘Free’ employee increases driving. Parking cash-out laws reward commuters who use climate-friendly modes, which increases fairness and reduces traffic problems.

2 hours ago - An Assessment of the Expected Impacts of City-Level Parking Cash-Out and Commuter Benefits Ordinances

Close-up photo of Megan Kimble against blurry green background with title "A journalist's take on planning"

Through the Eyes of a Journalist: Megan Kimble Reflects on Covering Food Systems, Zoning Changes, and Highway Projects in the Southwest

Kimble’s interest in topics related to urban planning spawned from research and writing about food systems in the borderlands of Arizona. She then moved to Austin in the midst of the city’s update of its Land Development Code.

4 hours ago - The Planning Commission Podcast

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.