‘Those in Power Won’t Give Up Willingly’: Veena Dubal and Meredith Whittaker on the Future of Organizing Under Prop 22
Workers can build solidarity and fight back against ‘anti-democratic, corporate law-making’
This op-ed was co-authored by Veena Dubal.
California voters, overwhelmed by a deluge of gig-company-sponsored misinformation over several months, voted in favor of Proposition 22, which eradicates basic labor protections for the state’s most vulnerable workers.
The law — a wholesale elimination of basic workers’ rights across an entire sector — has the potential to spread across the country and to other industries.
Authored and supported by Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart, and Postmates, Prop 22 creates a third category of low-rights workers for “transportation network companies” and “delivery network companies.” The law ensures that these workers, who lack the independence of true independent contractors, have no access to a time-based wage floor, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, sick leave, or state-mandated health insurance. It also creates significant barriers to unionization. And just to be sure it sticks, the gig companies that authored Prop 22 made it nearly impossible to change, requiring a seven-eighths vote by the California legislature to modify it.
To get Prop 22 passed, gig companies — which have yet to turn a profit — spent a historic $205 million on their campaign, effectively creating a political template for future anti-democratic, corporate law-making. In near-constant television and internet ads, mailers, emails, and texts, the companies made claims about the proposition that were emphatically untrue — including that the proposition ensured that workers made a minimum wage. They also used their control over workers to force them into promoting the measure and appropriated “woke” signaling to conceal the nefarious ways in which the law eradicated protections for a primarily Black, Indigenous, and people of color and immigrant workforce. Uber, for its part, tied white-collar workers’ raises and promotions to their work in getting Prop 22 passed, resulting in at least one worker quitting in protest. Together, the companies even hired sleazy…