One of the initiatives California voters are deciding this fall is Proposition 22. This initiative carves out an exception from state labor law for app-based transportation and delivery gig companies, including Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart, allowing the companies to continue to classify their workers as independent contractors rather than employees. Labor Center chair Ken Jacobs along with Michael Reich, economics professor and co-chair of the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics, have produced several papers that examine the implications of Prop 22 compared to employee status for drivers, consumers, taxpayers, and the companies.
Research & Publications
In this report, we focus on trends in technology adoption in the retail sector, looking beyond the effects of the current crisis to trace how retailers are using digital technologies in ways that alter the quality and quantity of front-line retail jobs. While we recognize the pandemic’s possible impacts on the retail workplace throughout the report, the bulk of our discussion concerns longstanding trends that appear likely to continue over the next five years or longer.
New technologies in the retail sector are likely to mean more monitoring and coercion of workers, and a stronger advantage for large companies like Walmart and Amazon, according to a new report released today from the U.C. Berkeley Labor Center and Working Partnerships USA.
The Effects of Proposition 22 on Driver Earnings: Response to a Lyft-Funded Report by Dr. Christopher Thornberg
Thornberg over-estimates driver gross earnings (before expenses) based on data that is not representative of drivers in California. He also underestimates driver costs. In doing so, he significantly overstates what drivers earn on net now, and would earn under Proposition 22.
The COVID-19 crisis that hit the world and the United States has resulted in profound changes to our way of life. While this paper focuses on workers and economic effects, we note that the crisis is foremost one of a pandemic. The economic situation is a byproduct. Public policy and investment will largely determine our rates of sickness, death and economic pain.
October 19, 2020
Labor Center research and Proposition 22
September 3, 2020
Change and Uncertainty, Not Apocalypse: Technological Change and Store-Based Retail
May 7, 2020
What would Uber and Lyft owe to the State Unemployment Insurance Fund?
April 10, 2020
Industries at Direct Risk of Job Loss from COVID-19 in California: A Profile of Front-Line Job and Worker Characteristics
October 31, 2019
The Uber/Lyft Ballot Initiative Guarantees only $5.64 an Hour
Resources on COVID-19
- June 16, 2020 COVID-19: Local Labor Standard Policies in California
- April 6, 2020 COVID-19: Resources on Federal and State Policy and Assistance
- April 6, 2020 COVID-19: Understanding Federal Legislation
This stipend bears little resemblance to traditional employer-based insurance, which is what drivers would get if they were considered employees instead of gig workers, said Ken Jacobs, chair of the University of California-Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education.
“Instead of spreading the cost of new cleaner technologies to whole industries, you’re putting that on the backs of workers,” said Carol Zabin.
“This is a really important battle. We’ll see it spread to other industries. It’s not just an issue in California. It has huge implications for labour – more of a race to the bottom by taking away worker protections through outsourcing and subcontracting.”
Much of gig work is spent waiting for a job in the app. UC Berkeley’s Labor Center did a study where they tried to take time between rides into account, along with wear and tear on the vehicle. Adding those factors in the mix, the study found the wage guarantee drops to just $5.64 an hour.
Drivers are only compensated when they’re fulfilling a ride request, not when they’re waiting for one, [so] the actual average pay for total time spent in the car is only $5.64 per hour.