In brief: The California Senate’s landmark approval of Assembly Bill 5, or AB5, earlier this week appeared to be the final nail in the coffin of Uber’s fight to continue to classify drivers as independent contractors rather than standard employees. But anyone that has followed Uber closely over the years likely knew the company wouldn’t give up that easily.
Tom West, Uber’s chief legal officer, argued in a recent statement that Uber is a “technology platform for several different types of digital marketplaces” and that drivers’ work is outside the usual course of Uber’s business.
In other words, because Uber believes drivers are properly classified as independent and “because we’ll continue to be responsive to what the vast majority of drivers tell us they want most—flexibility,” the company will not automatically reclassify drivers as employees, even after January 2020 when the bill is expected to become law.
West said his company expects to continue to “respond to claims of misclassification” in court, just as they currently do. In fact, Uber and Lyft have already set aside $60 million to build a campaign committee to support a ballot initiative to fight the matter.
This is a good point by @Uber. Just last week as my wife and I were leaving a bar, I turned to her and asked “are you getting a technology platform for several different types of digital marketplaces or should I?” pic.twitter.com/8IlBL5q1Tm— Jamison Foser (@jamisonfoser) September 11, 2019
Again, this shouldn’t be surprising for anyone familiar with Uber’s business practices. Vice points to a 2016 paper from researcher Rick Claypool called “Disrupting Democracy: How Uber Deploys Corporate Power to Overwhelm and Undermine Local Government” that documents how Uber “overran or ignored regulations in nine cities around the country and then later changed the laws with its high-powered lobbyists.”