Assembly Bill Would Make Ride-Hailing Workers Actual Employees Instead of Independent Contractors

SACRAMENTO – Assembly Bill 5 aims to make ride-hailing workers actual employees with set schedules and even benefits but some of those workers say part of the appeal of being an independent contractor is having the flexibility and freedom to choose just when they want to work.

Chris Labrada, 26, says driving for Lyft was one of the best career moves he’s ever made.

After eight years as a medic in the army — driving people around town --on his time-- allows him to earn a paycheck and work toward his college degree.

“I don’t know where I was going to have time to do that. And that’s what Lyft’s given me: the time and flexibility to go back to school,” he said.

He’s says working a traditional 9 to 5 job would be out of the question for his schedule but it’s an idea that’s gaining momentum in the California state legislature.

“Everyone has their reason for why they’re driving for Lyft and by passing this bill, driving for Lyft just becomes another job,” Labrada said.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a democrat from San Diego, brought the bill to the assembly floor.

“Big businesses shouldn’t be able to pass their costs onto taxpayers while depriving workers of the labor protections they are rightfully entitled to,” she said.

But drivers like Labrada say many people who work for ride-booking companies aren’t looking for a full-time job; instead, they’re looking for supplemental income.

“Driving for Lyft isn’t a career. It just gives you an opportunity to do the things you want to do in life, whether it’s school or… I meet a lot of drivers who are retired and just need a little bit more income, and that’s what Lyft has always advertised,” Labrada said.

Labrada says if this bill becomes law, riders should expect fewer drivers on the road, longer wait times and even higher fares.

Those are all reasons that he says outweigh the benefits of this proposed legislation.

“It’s best to just keep it like it is. Let people earn their income when they want to and work when they want to,” Labrada said.

The bill has already passed in the assembly and now is heading here to the state senate floor.

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