A judge in California ruled Aug. 20 that Proposition 22 violated the state’s constitution, The New York Times and other media outlets reported. California voters approved the law in last November’s election; it allows companies such as Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc. and others to continue classifying their drivers as independent contractors while providing the workers with some benefits. Online work services companies and others had spent some $200 million to help get Proposition 22 approved by voters. Work is underway on a similar initiative in Massachusetts, and opponents of that initiative are challenging its constitutionality as well.
The group representing companies backing Proposition 22 said Friday it plans to appeal the decision and Proposition 22 will remain in effect during the appeals process.
“We believe the judge made a serious error by ignoring a century’s worth of case law requiring the courts to guard the voters’ right of initiative,” said Geoff Vetter, spokesperson for the Protect App-Based Drivers & Services Coalition.
“This outrageous decision is an affront to the overwhelming majority of California voters who passed Prop 22,” Vetter continued. “We will file an immediate appeal and are confident the Appellate Court will uphold Prop 22. Importantly, this Superior Court ruling is not binding and will be immediately stayed upon our appeal. All of the provisions of Prop 22 will remain in effect until the appeal process is complete.”
The Services Employees International Union and some drivers had filed the suit challenging the law, and the union lauded the ruling.
“Today’s ruling by Judge Roesch striking down Proposition 22 couldn’t be clearer: The gig industry-funded ballot initiative was unconstitutional and is therefore unenforceable,” Bob Schoonover, president of SEIU’s California State Council, said in a statement.
“Companies like Uber and Lyft spent $225 million in an effort to take away rights from workers in a way that violates California’s Constitution,” Schoonover said. “They tried to boost their profits by undermining democracy and the state constitution. For two years, drivers have been saying that democracy cannot be bought. And today’s decision shows they were right.”