SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A judge ruled Friday that Proposition 22 – a drive-backed measure that classified drivers as independent contractors that voters passed last November – is unconstitutional and unenforceable.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch’s verdict on Friday found that the proposal could not be enforced due to a clause requiring 7/8 of the state’s legislatures to support any change in the law.
The controversial vote in November 2020 was heavily funded by ride-sharing and grocery delivery companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash. The proposal classified drivers as independent contractors rather than full-time employees.
“It will be a setback for them, it will increase their costs,” said Steve Cohn, lawyer specializing in labor law and senior counsel for the Center for Labor Law. “That means they will have a higher burden of social security, disability insurance and related wage taxes. People who work deserve compensation. You deserve to be protected. “
Proposal 22 was a rejection of California’s Assembly Bill 5, which was passed in 2019 after companies didn’t receive exemptions. This law requires companies in many industries to reclassify contract workers as entitled to more wage protection and benefits. It also provided some health and wage benefits to the independent contractors.
The news was tweeted by Hastings law professor Veena Dubal, which included a picture of the court documents signed by Judge Frank Roesch on Friday.
Breaking: CA Superior Court judge finds Prop 22 UN CONSTITUTIONAL !!! pic.twitter.com/R4gFoDrs0n
– Veena Dubal (@veenadubal) August 21, 2021
Among the tweets from lawyers, union officials and elected officials was a tweet from MP Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) who said Friday’s decision was unexpected.
“The judge is right, and I think we were right, those of us who fought Prop 22, the over $ 200 million the ridesharing companies spent to really fool the voters, and so it’s really pretty exciting, “said Kalra. “You have not received any medical care. You get a small grant, but it doesn’t even cover a small fraction of the cost, so most of the passengers are on Medi-Cal or Medicare. We basically subsidize the profits of these companies. “
The findings found that the court found section 7451 of the Proposal to be “unconstitutional as it restricts a future legislature’s power to define app-based drivers as employees subject to the Employee Compensation Act”.
It also states that part of Section 7465 “is unconstitutional because it defines independent legislation as ‘amendment’ and is not relevant to the ‘subject, purpose, or subject’ identified in Proposition 22.”
The Findings go on to state that because Section 7451 of the Proposal was inseparable from law, “the court finds that Proposal 22 as a whole is unenforceable”.
- Read the full verdict here
The Supreme Court ruling came in response to a motion from unions and delivery drivers asking the state not to enforce Proposition 22 because it was unconstitutional.
Bob Schoonover, president of SEIU California State Council, made a statement in response to the ruling.
“Today’s judgment by Judge Roesch, which nullifies Proposition 22, could not be clearer: The voting initiative funded by the gig industry was unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable. Companies like Uber and Lyft spent $ 225 million stripping workers who violate the California Constitution, ”the statement said. “They tried to increase their profits by undermining democracy and the constitution. For two years now, motorists have been saying that democracy cannot be bought. And today’s decision shows that they were right. “
The activist group Gig Workers Rising also issued a statement on the verdict.
Prop 22 has always been an illegal corporate takeover that not only stole gig workers’ wages, benefits and rights, but also ended the regulatory powers of our elected officials and allowed a handful of rogue companies to continue to act above the law. “Read the statement attributed to the group’s main organizer, Shona Clarkson. “Prop 22 is not only harmful to gig workers – it is also dangerous to our democracy. This fight isn’t over until all gig workers get living wages, benefits and the voice in their deserved job. “
Last February, the California Supreme Court declined to pursue the lawsuit, with judges saying the case should be brought to a lower court. Plaintiffs filed the lawsuit with the state Supreme Court because they saw it as a constitutional issue.
Both Lyft and Uber released statements appealing the judge’s verdict.
An Uber spokesman said in the statement that the ruling “ignores the will of the overwhelming majority of California voters and goes against both logic and law. You don’t have to take our word for it: The California attorney general strongly defended the constitutionality of Prop 22 in this particular case. “
Geoff Vetter, a spokesman for the Protest App-Based Drivers & Services Coalition, said in a statement on behalf of Lyft that “the judge has committed a grave mistake by ignoring centuries of case law that obliges the courts to enforce the law Protect Voters Initiative “and that” the provisions of Prop 22 remain in effect until the appeal process is completed “.
© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Maria Cid Medina from KPIX 5 contributed to this report