Earlier this month, a confident Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive of Uber, told investors that Proposition 22 was only the beginning. The contentious ballot measure, which was voted into law by millions of Californians this month, allows Uber and Lyft to subvert a new state labor law that required them to reclassify drivers as employees. On a November 5 earnings call, Khosrowshahi said that going forward, “You’ll see us more loudly advocating for… laws like Prop 22.”
Proposition 22 was a response to Assembly Bill 5, which gave gig economy workers in California protections such as health benefits, paid sick leave, and a minimum wage by defining them as employees. The measure instead defines these workers as independent contractors, directing companies like Uber to provide relatively meager protections such as a health care stipend for some drivers and an earnings floor. Uber, Lyft, Instacart, and other gig companies spent a whopping $200 million lobbying for the law, which was widely condemned by labor activists.
Though Proposition 22 only applies to California, Uber and other gig economy companies have been quietly advocating for these types of regulations at a national level. For more than a year, they have lobbied federal lawmakers in an effort coordinated by the Coalition for Workforce Innovation (CWI), a little known interest group comprised of Uber, Lyft, and Postmates, as well as industry veterans like MLM giant Amway and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), all of which stand to benefit from the continued treatment of gig workers as independent contractors.
Federal lobbying disclosures show that coalition members have sought to influence lawmakers on issues ranging from gig workers’ organizing rights to the dispensation of coronavirus benefits. These lobbyists also targeted policymakers on a national gig worker law to allow companies like Uber and Lyft to more easily classify drivers as nonemployees.
“In a nutshell, it’s a corporate lobbying group focused on labor regulations [in effort to] engage as many workers as possible as nonstandard workers…