San Francisco, CA (WorkersCompensation.com) – In the first legal challenge to Proposition 22, a major labor union and several gig workers have filed suit in the California Supreme Court. They seek to overturn the voter-approved ballot measure that allowed ride-hailing companies to continue treating drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. Prop 22, the most expensive ballot initiative in U.S. history, passed with 58 percent of the vote. It was a response to AB 5, which classified certain gig workers as employees – entitling them to workers’ compensation and other rights.
At a news conference yesterday, supporters of the lawsuit said Prop 22 unconstitutionally limits the power of the state’s legislature to govern, removing its abilities to grant workers the right to organize and give access to the state workers’ compensation program. A writ alleges the language of the ballot measure “grossly deceived the voters, who were not told they were voting to prevent the legislature from granting the drivers collective bargaining rights.”
The suit was filed by Service Employees International Union, along with drivers Hector Castellanos, Saori Okawa and Michael Robinson, as well as ride-hail-app user Joseph Delgado. They said they were suing in the state Supreme Court rather than a lower court because the issues were of broad public importance and required a speedy resolution to minimize harm to gig workers.
Bob Schoonover, president of SEIU Local 721 and the SEIU California State Council, called Proposition 22 “an unconstitutional attack on Californians’ rights that if left unchecked will grant permission to companies like Uber and Lyft to dismantle workers’ rights across the country.”
An attorney for the group said the proposition infringes on the state’s constitution since it was introduced through the ballot measure process as a statutory initiative rather than as a constitutional amendment.
Supporters of the ballot initiative indicated the actions this week amounted to a meritless lawsuit that seeks to undermine the clear democratic will of the people.