Uber, Post­mates sue Calif. to chal­lenge new la­bor law

Antelope Valley Press - - News - By DON THOMP­SON As­so­ci­ated Press

SACRA­MENTO — Ride-share com­pany Uber and on-de­mand meal de­liv­ery ser­vice Post­mates sued Mon­day to block a broad new Cal­i­for­nia law aimed at giv­ing wage and ben­e­fit pro­tec­tions to peo­ple who work as in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tors.

The law­suit filed in U.S. court in Los Angeles ar­gues that the law set to take ef­fect Wed­nes­day vi­o­lates fed­eral and state con­sti­tu­tional guar­an­tees of equal pro­tec­tion and due process.

Uber said it will try to link the law­suit to an­other le­gal chal­lenge filed in mid-De­cem­ber by as­so­ci­a­tions rep­re­sent­ing free­lance writ­ers and pho­tog­ra­phers.

The Cal­i­for­nia Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tion filed the first chal­lenge to the law in Novem­ber on be­half of in­de­pen­dent truck­ers.

The law cre­ates the na­tion’s strictest test by which work­ers must be con­sid­ered em­ploy­ees and it could set a prece­dent for other states.

The lat­est chal­lenge in­cludes two in­de­pen­dent work­ers who wrote about their con­cerns with the new law.

“This has thrown my life and the lives of more than a hun­dred thou­sand driv­ers into un­cer­tainty,” rideshare driver Lydia Ol­son’s wrote in a Face­book post cited by Uber.

Post­mates driver Miguel Perez called on-de­mand work “a bless­ing” in a let­ter dis­trib­uted by Uber. He said he used to drive a truck for 14 hours at a time, of­ten overnight.

“Some­times, when I was be­hind the wheel, with an end­less shift stretch­ing out ahead of me like the open road, I day­dreamed about a dif­fer­ent kind of job -- a job where I could choose when, where and how much I worked and still make enough money to feed my fam­ily,” he wrote.

The law­suit con­tends that the law ex­empts some in­dus­tries but in­cludes ride-share and de­liv­ery com­pa­nies with­out a ra­tio­nal ba­sis for dis­tin­guish­ing be­tween them. It al­leges that the law also in­fringes on work­ers’ rights to choose how they make a liv­ing and could void their ex­ist­ing con­tracts.

Demo­cratic Assem­bly­woman Lorena Gon­za­lez of San Diego coun­tered that she wrote the law to ex­tend em­ployee rights to more than a mil­lion Cal­i­for­nia work­ers who lack ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing a min­i­mum wage, mileage re­im­burse­ments, paid sick leave, med­i­cal cov­er­age and dis­abil­ity pay for on-the-job in­juries.

She noted that Uber had pre­vi­ously sought an ex­emp­tion when law­mak­ers were craft­ing the law, then said it would de­fend its ex­ist­ing la­bor model from le­gal chal­lenges. It joined Lyft and DoorDash in a vow to each spend $30 mil­lion to over­turn the law at the ballot box in 2020 if they don’t win con­ces­sions from law­mak­ers next year.

“The one clear thing we know about Uber is they will do any­thing to try to ex­empt them­selves from state reg­u­la­tions that make us all safer and their driver em­ploy­ees self-suf­fi­cient,” Gon­za­lez said in a state­ment. “In the mean­time, Uber chief ex­ec­u­tives will con­tinue to be­come bil­lion­aires while too many of their driv­ers are forced to sleep in their cars.”

The new law was a re­sponse to a le­gal rul­ing last year by the Cal­i­for­nia Supreme Court re­gard­ing work­ers at the de­liv­ery com­pany Dy­namex.

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