AB 5 – California Drivers Fight for Liberty

Op-Ed by Krishna Chandrasekaran

Yesterday I saw an advertisement about this ballot that is trying to undo AB 5, a California law that would violate the rights and liberties of drivers of app-based services like Uber Eats, Lyft, DoorDash and the like to operate as independent contractors. These drivers are providing services that the oh so benevolent (not!) and socialist state government of California under Gruesome Gavin Newsom is unjustly making more expensive, while failing in the fundamental duty of government to protect people’s rights and liberties at all costs.

As someone who strives to live in a civilization where liberty and non-coercion prevail rather than socialism and coercion, I must say that OVERALL, I support the ballot. However, there are problematic parts of it, which I’ll detail below, but let me first start with the good parts that I enthusiastically support – they are stated below and can also be found here:

Protect app-based work that is essential during these uncertain times.

The ballot measure would protect the right of app-based rideshare and delivery drivers to work as independent contractors if certain criteria are met, such as having control over their own hours and when, where, how long they work, and the ability to work for multiple platforms. It would preserve access to earning opportunities for struggling Californians needing to supplement lost income or jobs.

Protection against discrimination and sexual harassment

Implement new customer and public safety protections.

The measure would provide for:

  • Recurring background checks of drivers
  • Mandatory safety training of drivers
  • Zero tolerance for alcohol and drug offenses

Protect access to app-based delivery and rideshare services.

This ballot measure will protect:

  • App-based delivery services that provide Californians convenient access to food, medicine, grocery and package delivery services, while providing small businesses like restaurants, grocers and retailers new customers; and
  • Rideshare services that reduce impaired and drunk driving, improve mobility for seniors and the disabled, and provide new transportation options for families who cannot afford a vehicle.

Why do I support the above-described measures of the ballot? Please find my reasoning below:

See: 177 Different Ways to Generate Extra Income

I support these measures above because they protect the rights, the fundamental individual liberties, of ride-share companies and the drivers to offer services with flexibility while preserving the right of customers to accept the flexibility-based services offered by drivers.  Ensuring safety with concise rules like background checks, sobriety, and protection from sexual harassment are within reason as they aren’t costly above and beyond regular business operating expenses.  For these reasons, I don’t support these following measures currently on the ballot:

Require new wage and benefit guarantees.

The measure requires app-based rideshare and delivery network companies to offer new protections and benefits for drivers, including:

  • Earnings Guarantee, including:
    • Drivers always receive at least an amount equal to 120% of minimum wage, plus 30 cents per mile compensation toward expenses, with the potential to earn more and no limits on how much drivers can make.
  • Health care contribution equal to 100 percent of the average employer payment toward a Covered California Plan, or $367 per month to a driver on average.
    • Drivers start earning this amount at 15 hours per week and reach the full amount at 25 hours per week
    • Drivers can earn multiple contributions from multiple companies
    • The health care provision in the ballot measure is more generous than state and federal laws, which only require health care to be provided to those working more than 30 hours per week, with no benefits for part time workers.
  • Occupational accident insurance to cover on-the-job injuries
  • Automobile accident and liability insurance
  • A cap on driver hours per day to prevent sleepy driving

Why don’t I support these measures? Please see my reasoning below:

Forcing the rideshare companies to bear the heavy expenses of earnings guarantees and health insurance to drivers violates the rights of the companies.  Additionally, imposing these expenses on the companies, rather than letting drivers purchase their own health insurance with their earnings, will result in unintended and undesirable consequences such as higher prices for customers, lower pay for drivers, removing drivers from network, preventing new drivers from getting on boarded to the network, and/or stifling investment into things that either result in higher pay for drivers or lower prices for customers, just to name a few.  The ballot should aim to maximize the benefits of customers, drivers, and rideshare companies, which is why I cannot support the above-described measures currently in the ballot.  Regarding the need for accident, liability, occupational, and other types of insurance, these should not be made mandatory by law of drivers.

The companies themselves can either require them of drivers on their respective networks, or if the customers demand drivers to carry such insurance, they can force them to do so by refraining from getting service by those uninsured drivers.  Anyway, all California drivers, even those that don’t provide delivery or ridesharing services, are already required by law to carry car insurance.  The same concept applies to the cap on driver hours; customers can filter out getting served by drivers who’ve driven too many hours, a quantity which is subject to each customer’s opinion, by simply avoiding such drivers and selecting drivers that have not driven so many hours.  There is absolutely no need for the government to have the power to enforce something like this.  Already the government uses its power wrongly, intrusively, and abusively by interfering with the rights of voluntary contract and commerce between rideshare companies, drivers, and customers. Let’s not give them more power to do so, in fact, it is our duty, as people in a free country, to resist and reduce their abilities and temptations to do so.

If they can eliminate the bad parts described above, I pray for the success of this ballot, as I believe everyone should.

Source: Liberty Forecast Blog

Image: Pixabay

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