Lyft Still Desperately Wants Its Own Drivers to Oppose AB5

Sen Lorena Gonzalez
Sen Lorena Gonzalez
Photo: Rich Pedroncelli (AP)

A contentious bill that puts a stake into the heart of the worker misclassification schemes buoying Uber, Lyft, Doordash, and other overvalued gig work platforms, has passed the California Senate. As predicted, this hasn’t stopped these companies from continuing to undermine this threatening legislation in any way they can.

Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), which is expected to easily pass through the California Assembly and Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk to become law, aims to force companies to reclassify independent contractors who meet a certain set of criteria as full employees, a classification which carries crucial benefits denied contractors.


Previously, Lyft and Uber were dinged in the press for sending emails and in-app messages to their own drivers urging them to oppose the bill, claiming it would hurt their schedule flexibility. In reality, employee status would not necessitate fixed schedules, but it’s a convenient enough talking point for businesses keen to oppose this bill—if anything, the parties losing flexibility by this new arrangement would be the platforms themselves, which are often capricious in setting their pay rates and in deactivating (see: firing) drivers.

Attempting to recruit drivers to work against their own best interests is a dirty tactic, but hoping to get those same drivers to oppose AB5 after it has passed its last major legislative hurdle just reeks of desperation. “As a result of AB 5, you may soon be required to drive specific shifts, stick to specific areas, and drive for only a single platform,” an email Lyft sent to some drivers this morning laughably rehashes. “We continue to advocate for a solution that protects your independence — and your earnings.”

The email exclaims that among those in Lyft’s corner is former Senator Barbara Boxer. She even wrote an editorial challenging the value of AB5 for the San Fransisco Chronicle, people! Though as that editorial helpfully notes, Boxer was also “hired by Lyft to advise them on meeting the challenges of the gig economy.”

Similar messaging was included in an in-app notification. A bright pink “take action” button at the email’s end directs drivers to a Phone2Action form website for calling Governor Newsom who, just last week, penned his own editorial supporting the bill.


At this point, is anyone falling for this shit?

Read the email, in the full glory of corporate flop-sweat, below:

The California Legislature has approved AB 5

As a result of AB 5, you may soon be required to drive specific shifts, stick to specific areas, and drive for only a single platform (such as Lyft, Uber, Doordash, or others). While no changes have gone into effect yet, we promise to keep you informed as soon as they do.

We continue to advocate for a solution that protects your independence — and your earnings. After talking with thousands of drivers, we’re asking California lawmakers to amend the bill to include the following:

Independent status for drivers

You should be able to drive whenever, wherever, and however you choose.

A guaranteed earnings floor

The state will set a clear minimum to help you cover driving expenses — and you’ll always be able to make more.

Bargaining power for drivers

Drivers have the right to advocate together.

Benefits, including paid sick time and family leave

And depending on how much you drive, you could access even more benefits.

This alternative to AB 5 is supported by drivers, the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board, and Former US Senator Barbara Boxer.

The bill sits on Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk, waiting for his signature. If you support this alternative, contact his office and ask him to fix AB 5 for drivers. And stay tuned for updates as we fight to ensure Lyft continues to remain a flexible and reliable way for millions of drivers to earn.


Senior reporter. Tech + labor /// Keybase: Securedrop: http://gmg7jl25ony5g7ws.onion/

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In reality, employee status would not necessitate fixed schedules

Yes, they do. Even if your schedule is flexible, an employee still has to check in for work to log those hours if the company needs them to work. Please read the decision on the CA Supreme Court decision on Ward v. Tilly.

the Court ruled that “reporting time” pay is owed whenever an employee is required to “report” to work, even if that “report” is by phone, instead of physically showing up for work. In Tilly’s, the employer required employees to call in two hours before their shift to find out whether they were needed, or not. If needed, the employees would come to work; if not, Tilly’s did not pay the employees any compensation. The Court ruled that this was a violation of the applicable Wage Order, finding that Tilly’s requirement that employees phone in, triggered the obligation to pay the employee a “reporting time” premium (between one and four hours of pay).

Substitute phone in with logging into the app and you have a major problem where a company can trigger a reporting time premium costing 1 - 4 hours of pay.

Cities like San Francisco where Uber’s HQ is located have predictive scheduling laws in place where the employer has to notify the employee of their shift 14 days in advance.