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An initiative that would overturn provisions of AB 5 applying to app-based transportation and delivery drivers has qualified for the November ballot in California. The “Protect App-Based Drivers and Services Act” was written in response to last year’s passage of AB 5. If passed by the voters, the initiative would add Chapter 10.5 (commencing with Section 7448) to Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code with approximately 18 pages of new law.

On August 30, 2019, three companies – DoorDash, Lyft, and Uber – each placed $30 million into campaign accounts to fund the ballot initiative campaign. Subsequently Instacart (Maplebear, Inc.) and Postmates Inc. contributed $10 million each to the effort.

Backers of the initiative say it would allow app-based drivers to gain additional income by working a few hours a week on schedules they determine as independent contractors. The official ballot title will be “Changes Employment Classification Rules for App-based Transportation and Delivery Drivers. Initiative Statute.”

The ballot measure would enact labor and wage policies specific to app-based drivers and companies, including a net earnings floor based on 120 percent of the state’s or municipality’s minimum wage and 30 cents per mile; a limit to the hours permitted to work during a 24-hour period; healthcare subsidies; occupational accident insurance; and accidental death insurance. The ballot measure would also require the companies to develop anti-discrimination and sexual harassment policies.

Opponents, led by the California Labor Federation, say passage of the initiative would remove protections for app-based drivers, such as paid sick and family leave, health insurance and workers’ compensation. The Coalition to Protect Riders and Drivers, Sponsored by the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO contributed $690 thousand to defeat the initiative.

If approved by voters, the initiative would require companies with independent contractor drivers to provide specified alternative benefits, including minimum compensation and health care subsidies based on engaged driving time, vehicle insurance, safety training and sexual harassment policies.

The initiative would also restrict local regulation of app-based drivers, criminalize impersonation of such drivers and require background checks. Interestingly, the last sentence of the proposed law provides that “this Act shall be liberally construed in order to effectuate its purposes.

The initiative needed at least 685,534 projected valid signatures to become eligible by random sampling. It exceeded that threshold Friday, Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced.