Ride-share drivers react as California judge orders Uber, Lyft to reclassify them as employees

California Connection

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A California judge has ordered Uber and Lyft to reclassify their workers from independent contractors to employees.

The change is what the author of Assembly Bill 5 hoped to achieve in 2019 but the law was not embraced by ride-share companies. 

Ride-share driver Jim Pyatt told FOX40 that driving strangers around town has paved a good living for himself.

“I love what I do,” Pyatt said.

He said he likes the flexibility that comes with being an independent contractor for Uber and Lyft.

But now, he said there’s a fork in the road after a California judge ruled in favor of forcing ride-hailing companies to reclassify their workers as employees.

“I can go drive whenever I want, wherever I want to meet my schedule, make sure my parents are taken care of. And that’s why I love doing this, it gives me that ability, and they want to take it away,” Pyatt explained.

“Would you sacrifice a little flexibility for double the pay or would you rather have a totally flexible thing and half the pay?”

Jeff Perry, Ride-share Driver

The author behind AB 5, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, is praising the court’s move saying in a statement:

Uber and Lyft have been fighting tooth and nail for years to cheat their drivers out of the basic workplace protections and benefits they have been legally entitled to … Today, the court sided with the People of California. I’m thankful to our Attorney General and city attorneys for demanding justice for the hundreds of thousands of rideshare drivers in California.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez

And some drivers like Jeff Perry are also honking horns of approval. 

“Employee status seems like the best route,” Perry said. “If I’m not even making half of minimum wage, effectively, after my expenses, then that’s not a viable option for me.”

As employees, drivers would be paid minimum wage, overtime, guaranteed breaks and mileage reimbursement while on the clock.

Perry, who’s driven for Uber for five years, said the new protections will increase his paycheck and hold ride-share companies accountable.

“Would you sacrifice a little flexibility for double the pay or would you rather have a totally flexible thing and half the pay? Because that’s really what’s on the table right now,” Perry explained.

But many drivers are pumping the celebratory brakes. 

In a recent survey, more than 70% of 734 drivers said they did not want employee status, preferring the freedom to pick their own schedules and drive when they want over guaranteed pay and benefits.

“They want to take this away from 900,000 of us who drive as independent contractors. It makes no sense,” Pyatt said.

Uber and Lyft said they plan to appeal the ruling. 

Drivers do not want to be employees, full stop. We’ll immediately appeal this ruling and continue to fight for their independence. Ultimately, we believe this issue will be decided by California voters and that they will side with drivers.

Lyft

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