back to article Uber, Lyft and DoorDash put $30m apiece into ballot battle fund to kill gig-economy employee benefits

Gig-economy giants Uber, Lyft and Doordash have put $30m apiece into a new fund to push a new California ballot measure that would prevent their workers get ordinary benefits like a minimum wage, overtime, workers’ compensation and so on. The corporations are worried about a new piece of legislation working its way through the …

  1. ma1010 Silver badge

    You never know - Money mostly wins, sadly

    I live in California and have for many years. I've seen some good ballot measures that would help people (no-fault insurance, for example) get defeated by big money (in the case of no-fault, it was the trial lawyers who put up many, many millions to keep their gravy train running).

    I'm all for giving "gig economy" victims workers full benefits, and wouldn't mind paying a bit more for Lyft (I won't use Uber) or Doordash. I'd rather do that than see those folks screwed over. Voting down an idiotic "help the poor billionaires" law should be a no-brainer for the average voter. But all that money can buy a lot of lying ads for the megacorps, so it could go either way.

    As for Governor Nuisance, he's an idiot, and will likely support the big money. He was crying about how horrible it would be if PG&E went bankrupt due to the Camp Fire (a disaster they were partly responsible for). Back in the 1940's, PG&E's equipment in Sacramento was condemned under Eminent Domain and bought by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), a non-profit. SMUD provides electrical power to the Capitol building where Governor Nuisance has his office as well as most of Sacramento County. They provide that power for around half of the rates PG&E charges. But I suppose it would be horrible if the big-money stockholders lost the potential for more profits off people. Certainly the governor thinks so.

    1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: You never know - Money mostly wins, sadly

      Uber could vanish by 2020 because money wins. They exist because some employees and investors are still hopeful for a future profit.

  2. ecofeco Silver badge

    This is my shocked face

    :|

    Not.

  3. Blackjack

    There is a typo....

    Were it says "Gig-economy" it should say "Slave-contractors-scam".

    I know English loves to steal words like the pirate it is, but how the hell you get "Gig economy" from "contratos basura"?

  4. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    No-fault insurance is dumb

    "I live in California and have for many years. I've seen some good ballot measures that would help people (no-fault insurance, for example) "

    I'm sorry but no-fault insurance is dumb. Don't know if you have this in UK, but in a few US states that have it, it means you can be stopped at a stop light, or even parked or in your driveway, some jackass rams into your car and it's 50% your fault because they automatically split fault 50/50. The insurance companies love it because they don't have any of those arguments over whose fault it is, but it's pretty bad because in the many cases where fault is obvious, the fault is not properly assigned, bad drivers end up double-raising everyone's rates (raising rates in that general sense, and raising rates specifically because stuff that is no-one's fault but their own is assigned 50% fault to innocent bystanders..bydrivers?)

    1. DougS Silver badge

      That isn't how no-fault works

      You don't get "assigned 50% of the fault", the insurance company (and authorities) still determine fault. But your insurance company is who pays your claims, which makes the process smoother for everyone because you don't have to talk to the other driver's insurance company, you don't have to carry "uninsured driver" coverage in case some jackass driving without insurance hits you, etc.

      If you are sitting at a stoplight and someone rear ends you, they will be 100% at fault and their insurance rates will go up and yours won't. Bad drivers become too expensive to insure, lose their license and everything else just like 'regular' car insurance.

      1. DevelopingMadness

        Re: That isn't how no-fault works

        "If you are sitting at a stoplight and someone rear ends you, they will be 100% at fault and their insurance rates will go up and yours won't."

        If only. In the UK if you are sat in the car (at a junction, roundabout etc..) and someone rear ends you, even if they admit full responsibility your insurance costs still go up significantly at the next renewal date (apparently because you are a higher risk of having a second accident).

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: That isn't how no-fault works

          You need to fix the laws governing your insurance companies I guess. That doesn't happen in the US.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: That isn't how no-fault works

        you don't have to carry "uninsured driver" coverage

        In some (all?) no-fault states you may not be required to have uninsured-driver coverage, but in the no-fault states where I've insured vehicles (Massachusetts, Michigan) I always added the optional coverage. The limits on no-fault coverage, for most types of loss, are just too low.

        Michigan is unusual in that, until a couple of months ago, it had mandatory no-fault unlimited personal injury protection coverage. That meant lifetime coverage of medical costs related to injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident, and was the main reason why Michigan's auto insurance costs are the highest in the nation. (Technically, unlimited PIP is still required at the moment; the new law phases in the changes to required coverage over the next few years, I think.)

        But even unlimited PIP doesn't remove the need for uninsured/underinsured. $20K won't replace the typical new car, for example.

  5. revenant Silver badge

    "And they have the governor’s ear:"

    ... which they will return when the ballot measure succeeds.

    1. Cynical Pie
      Joke

      Re: "And they have the governor’s ear:"

      Along with the head of Alfredo Garcia....

  6. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Taxi Drivers Unite

    Ride booking companies are willing to fork out 1.5 Milllion hours of minimum wage value each to stop their drivers (who go where they're told and don't get to set the price) being called employees, hours that the drivers would only earn while the meter was running, hours that are generally charged at a significant multiplier of $20.

    I think it's time for some market disruption by the drivers, they should stump up a little cash each and commission a generic ride booking app that has a simple flat monthly (tax deductable) subscription charge.

    All the interweb derived benefits and drivers can be self employed or part of a company as they see fit, just like taxi drivers always have been.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Taxi Drivers Unite

      The snag is that even with the low rates of pay and poor conditions, Uber still subsidises the ride - this is why they lose money consistently. There isn't a market for the number of rides that currently take place if they're charged at their true cost.

      There's a slightly different situation with home delivery, but basically decent wages and conditions would price the service above what consumers are prepared to pay for the convenience.

      If you regulate to prevent this type of exploitation, companies will have to find other ways of making money that support the additional costs. That's the sustainable outcome. In the short term, most of these "gig" jobs will disappear, though.

      1. Imhotep

        Re: Taxi Drivers Unite

        " In the short term, most of these "gig" jobs will disappear, though."

        I think you're right. There is a significant amount of "churn" in the people doing this work. They come, they find out it isn't worth their while, and they leave. With the number of drivers these companies are running through, eventually they will have gone through all the potential drivers.

        I'm sure the plan is that gig drivers are a stopgap requirement until they have a self driving car. I don't think that is going to happen until long after their investors have lost patience with the continual losses.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Taxi Drivers Unite

          "I think it's time for some market disruption by the drivers,"

          I would really like to see that. In many cases, the companies run at least in large part by employees have some major benefits. There are a few cases where they can fall into error, but that's by no means guaranteed.

          "they should stump up a little cash each and commission a generic ride booking app that has a simple flat monthly (tax deductable) subscription charge"

          That, however, won't work at all. Neither part of that is going to be feasible. Tax deduction only works if the place is a registered charity or nonprofit. There are lots of ways to file as one, but there are usually requirements about working for some specific charitable goal. By most definitions, giving that group more control over what they earn is unlikely to be accepted under the current rules. However, let's assume that either I'm wrong and it is accepted or the law is edited to allow it. The fee still wouldn't be deductible because it'd be considered a purchase, not a donation. Only donations are considered deductible for the purchaser.

          As for the subscription, that will fail for pretty much everyone. For many people who don't frequently use the transportation, it won't be worth the average subscription price for the four rides they take a year. Meanwhile, others may get a ride every day, and be profoundly underpaying for that. Worse still, if I have paid for the subscription, nothing keeps me from getting a ride to absolutely everywhere I go, because I've already paid so it's now free. So many more people will be calling rides that there wouldn't be enough drivers to handle the load, yet their revenue wouldn't increase at all. Meanwhile, potential customers would see that it always takes forever to get a ride because all the current customers are using the service five times a day, and they won't sign up. If I have to pay every time I want a ride, I'll probably not take as many, which means there are more available drivers as well as keeping environmental costs down.

          1. eldakka Silver badge

            Re: Taxi Drivers Unite

            Neither part of that is going to be feasible. Tax deduction only works if the place is a registered charity or nonprofit.

            I'm not sure what you are on about with charities.

            Any (legal) business expense is tax deductible.

            If a booking app charges $100/month (or $1/booking) fee to users of that booking app, and the users are using it to generate an income, that $100/month (or $1/booking) is tax deductible.

            If you drive people around for a living, taxi driver, ride-share, hire-car (with driver), charter plane, then the costs of providing that service (booking agencies, petrol, vehicle leases, maintenance, etc.) are all deducted from the income generated (tax deduction) before declaring the profit that has the income tax levied on it.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: Taxi Drivers Unite

              I'd recommend you consult with a legal or financial advisor before trying to put that into effect. While business expenses incurred by the business concerned are tax deductible, that doesn't apply to many end users who would be taking the ride outside of work. You can't usually deduct your taxi or rideshare bill from your taxes, even if you need it to make money. For the same reason, consumer purchases of automobile fuel aren't tax deductible even if you really need that to get to work. I assumed you had planned for another reason for the payments to be tax deductible, which is where the charity/nonprofit (different term for different countries) discussion came from.

              1. eldakka Silver badge

                Re: Taxi Drivers Unite

                I think you need to read the comments you are replying to again,

                First of all:

                I assumed you had planned for another reason for the payments to be tax deductible,
                I didn't write the comment you originally replied to, therefore that wasn't "me".
                While business expenses incurred by the business concerned are tax deductible, that doesn't apply to many end users who would be taking the ride outside of work. You can't usually deduct your taxi or rideshare bill from your taxes, even if you need it to make money. For the same reason, consumer purchases of automobile fuel aren't tax deductible even if you really need that to get to work.
                You are the only one who is mentioning end-users here. Neither the post you are replying to, @Imhotep's, or my subsequent reply to you, or any of the other posts in this comment chain, are about or even mention "end-users", besides your last post - and this one. They are about the self-employed ride-share drivers providing services to end-users.

                The OP @Wellyboot wrote:

                I think it's time for some market disruption by the drivers, they [by which basic English sentence construction says that the 'they' refers to the drivers] should stump up a little cash each and commission a generic ride booking app that has a simple flat monthly (tax deductable) subscription charge.
                (emphasis and editorial note added) Whom, after re-reading your post seems to be the one you are actually replying to, as opposed to the poster @Imhotep to whom you posted the reply to.

                Therefore the subscription charge for the booking app, you know, the one the drivers got together to create to replace uber, lyft, and so on, that the driver pays so that they can be allocated jobs from the app, is tax deductible for the driver, the one who is paying the subscription. As a person providing a service to an end-user, their (the drivers) expenses in providing that revenue-earning service - including their subscription to the ride-sharing app that books their rides - are tax deductible. That's how tax works.

                I was a taxi driver. From the money given to us from passengers, first we'd pay for petrol, loan-repayments on the car and equipment, servicing fees (including tyres etc.), booking-agency fee (the equivalent of the booking app subscription the drivers would be paying in this case), licensing fees, radio-equipment (this was 25 years ago) leasing fees, driver's portion, and so on. After all that was taken from the revenue generated, that is, deducted, was tax paid on the remainder, the profit. And the drivers share, they paid income tax on (well, that part of it they decided to declare that is - cash business ;) ).

      2. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: decent wages and conditions would price the service above...

        ... what consumers are prepared to pay for the convenience.

        So a flawed business model then, where it only makes money if people can work for fun rather a living.

        This sort of business should fail, supposedly that's how the market works.

        1. Tom 35 Silver badge

          Re: decent wages and conditions would price the service above...

          The CEO gets bags of money.

          The people running the IPO get bags of money.

          Some of the people playing with the stock might get money.

          The actual product runs at a loss and the people doing the work get peanuts.

          No need to prop up this garbage "Gig" scam.

        2. eldakka Silver badge

          Re: decent wages and conditions would price the service above...

          So a flawed business model then, where it only makes money if people can work for fun rather a living.
          I may be miss-remembering, but my memory of when these services initially came out was that they were intended to be used as a way to offset travel you were already making. Maybe you were already driving across town for some reason, therefore you'd try to make a little extra cash - maybe even just to cover your fuel that you'd have to pay for anyone since you were already going that way - by finding someone who was travelling in a similar route who could pay you a bit of cash for their ride. Hence "ride-sharing" as opposed to taxi service. My vague memories of the early marketing was that it was never intended as a way to make a living from.

          Of course, that is not how it has turned out. And as I led with, I may not be remembering correctly.

      3. Youngone

        Re: Taxi Drivers Unite

        If you regulate to prevent this type of exploitation, companies will have to find other ways of making money that support the additional costs.

        So if Uber can't exploit their drivers they will need to exploit their customers?

        That doesn't sound like a business. That sounds like a criminal enterprise.

  7. Imhotep

    Wall Street billionaires

    I know it won't play as well in California, but perhaps Silicon Valley Billionaires might be more accurate.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ahhhh America

    Where the big man routinely screws the small man, and people call it "the American way".

    I will never use these parasitic companies.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ahhhh America

      Whenever a company puts money into a campaign, it should be obvious to voters it's a bad idea..

      Still.. can't throw stones - our lot managed to convince the hard-of-thinking to vote for brexit...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: our lot managed to convince the hard-of-thinking to vote for brexit.

        No, a load of businessmen have managed to pit us against each other so they can asset strip the country. Why do you think the pound is being allowed to plummet atm? There's a lot of money to be made in a fire sale, provided it's not your property that's burning.

        1. Tom 35 Silver badge

          Re: our lot managed to convince the hard-of-thinking to vote for brexit.

          It's the 12 cookie joke in real life.

      2. James Anderson Silver badge

        Re: Ahhhh America

        So,

        You have to wait four weeks for a doctor's appointment, your kid goes to a school where the class size is forty, and the teacher spends all there time on the 10 pupils with poor English language skills and you have to compete for work with their parents who are prepared to work for minimum wage or less.

        Yet you are somehow sums when you vote to change this situation?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ahhhh America

          I'll try to decode what you wrote. You seem to be regurgitating Farage talking points anyway.

          1) I have seen the doctor probably 15 times in the last 3 years. Each time it was on the same day.

          But that aside, it has nothing to do with the EU, unless you are inferring our NHS is being overrun by foreigners...

          2) 30 kids per class max here. But again, nothing to do with the EU. I see your less that subtle in your blaming it on foreigners this time....

          3) You basically wrote "foreigners stealing our jobs"

          Christ, I never thought I'd read such an ill-informed, bigoted, and xenophobic (and probably) racist post here on El Reg.

          Newsflash, if some foreigner with "poor language skills" takes your job, then you were goddam crap at it in the first place.

          Your "argument" can be pulled apart it so many ways, it's hard to know where to start.

          Immigration in the UK has provided a net profit, not a cost.. The UK has benefitted from foreign workers, so if your schools and doctors are under resourced, the blame is on the government (who have profited off the immigrants) - you know, that same government you've voted to give even more control.

          As for immigration itself, what are you scared of? Muslims from Syria? Africans? We can nip that one in the bud straight away - Being part of the EU has no affect whatsoever on our non-eu immigration policy. You know that - you see all the time people trying to sneak in to the channel tunnel or hide in the back of trucks coming from Calais. They wouldn't be doing that if we had to let them in.

          So, the other immigration is from the EU. Presumably you don't know of the EU rules that says any country can expel someone after 3 months if they are not paying their way?

          Don't think you can swan off to an EU country and live on the dole. They'll legally deport you back.

          So, why doesn't the UK do this? You need to ask our government that... You know, those guys you voted to give more control.

          So, imigration has made the country richer. And we don't have to host Europeans who aren't paying their way.

          The doctors waiting times and school class sizes that you plucked straight from the daily mail would be the sole responsibility of the government.

          In any circumstance they occur, immigrants would have MORE than paid for their share.

          But for years and years, successive governments have blamed the EY for everything, and idioits have believed it.

          Congratulations, if we do leave, the "problems" you cite will get even worse, but I guess you'll still be blaming the EU.

          That's the thing with brexitters, they fall into 3 types:

          1) Those that plan on making money shorting the UK, and reducing working regulations.

          2) The racist/bigoted/xenophobic.

          3) The clueless, who have no valid reason - every reason they have is based on ignorance or just complete lies.

          Yes, the austerity has been had, but it was the fault of the government. The EU has helped mitigate things with regenerational projects.

          You've gone and voted to give more "control" to the very idiots that have made your life a misery, so, yes, you are indeed "sums"(?) when you vote to change the situation by MAKING IT WORSE.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    wal-mart

    “The voters of California won’t stand for billionaires allowing their workers less rights than Wal-Mart employees.”

    I’m guessing with statements like that, Gonzalez is not really popular with Walmart employees ?

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: wal-mart

      I was thinking the same. It makes Gonzalez sound very out of touch.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020