Lyft Really Did It [Update: And Got Its Way]

Illustration for article titled Lyft Really Did It [Update: And Got Its Way]
Image: ROBYN BECK/AFP (Getty Images)

Update 8/20/20 3:45 p.m. ET: Following Lyft’s announcement that it would cease operations in California over an order to classify its drivers as full-time employees rather than independent contractors, CNBC reports that an appeals court in the state has granted Lyft and Uber a temporary reprieve extending the time before the companies will be expected to comply with the law. According to the report, the stay could expire as soon as this coming Tuesday, but depending on a variety of factors, it might extend as far as October.


“The California court has granted our request for a further stay, so our rideshare operations can continue uninterrupted, for now,” said in a statement to Gizmodo. Thanks to the tens of thousands of drivers, riders, and public officials who urged California to keep rideshare available for so many people who depend on it.”

Original reporting below:

Lyft announced Thursday it is ceasing operations in California, yanking the rug out from under its riders and drivers in the region.

Beginning at 11:59 p.m. PT on Thursday, users will no longer be able to book rides in California. That will mean fewer options for folks without access to public transportation or a personal vehicle, and it will mean that people who drive for Lyft will be without that income for the foreseeable future. And right on cue, Lyft is taking this opportunity to blame local legislators and solicit votes in favor of Proposition 22, which goes to vote in November.

“We don’t want to suspend operations,” the company stated in its announcement of the measure. “We are going to keep up the fight for a benefits model that works for all drivers and our riders. We’ve spent hundreds of hours meeting with policymakers and labor leaders to craft an alternative proposal for drivers that includes a minimum earnings guarantee, mileage reimbursement, a health care subsidy, and occupational accident insurance, without the negative consequences.”

What Lyft doesn’t mention here is that independent contractors would not, under Proposition 22, receive the full benefits and protections afforded under full-time employee status—benefits that Uber and Lyft have made clear they do not want to pay for. As of this writing, Uber had not announced that it would also be ceasing operations in favor of making a public spectacle and upending transportation accessibility in California, but it has said it plans to.

This is the cowardly, shitty thing to do—and Lyft fucking knows it.

Correction: Lyft will stop operations at just before midnight, not noon as stated in an earlier draft of this article. We regret the error.



Go Hawkeyes

I get it. I don’t blame them. They are a for profit company that wants to make money, which they are entitled to try to do. They can’t make money if drivers are classified as employees. Unless they drastically raise rates, which riders won’t be happy with.  This was likely the least costly approach to take.