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I’m a software engineer at Uber and I’m voting against CA Prop 22

By Patrick follow Patrick   2020 Oct 8, 5:29pm 456 views   27 comments   watch   nsfw   quote   share    


https://techcrunch.com/2020/10/06/im-a-software-engineer-at-uber-im-voting-against-prop-22/

I’ve been a software engineer at Uber for two years, and I’ve also been a ride-hail driver. I regularly drove for Lyft in college, and while my day job involves writing code for the Uber Android app, I still make deliveries for app-based companies on my bike to understand the state of the gig economy.

These experiences have made me realize a crucial factor in the gig economy: Uber works because it’s cheap and it’s quick. The instant gratification when we book a ride and a car shows up only minutes later gives us a sense of control. It’s the most convenient thing in the world to go to your friend’s house, the grocery store or the airport at the click of a button.

But it’s become clear to me that this is only possible because countless drivers are spending their personal time sitting in their cars, waiting to pick up a ride, completely unpaid. Workers are subsidizing the product with their free labor. ...

Uber claims Prop 22 would be good for drivers, but that depends on Uber the company treating drivers better. ...

As a software engineer, I have a very different experience working for Uber than drivers do. Being classified as an employee affords me benefits including healthcare, a retirement plan, stock vesting and the ability to take paid vacation and sick leave. Uber drivers are not afforded these benefits, since Uber misclassifies them as independent contractors. Since January 1 of this year, the law has been clear: Gig drivers should be classified as employees. Yet Uber refuses to obey the law and is now seeking to get Prop 22 passed so they can write a new set of rules for themselves.

There’s a misconception that all Uber drivers are part-time. Maybe they drive as a fun hobby in retirement or pick up a few hours after class in college, as I did. These drivers exist, but the drivers who are essential to Uber’s business are full-time workers. A study commissioned by the city of San Francisco released in May found that 71% of the city’s gig drivers work at least 30 hours per week. It is these drivers who give the majority of the rides. California legally requires employers to provide benefits to all workers working at least 30 hours per week, so 71% of daily drivers are currently denied benefits required by the state. ...

My message to other tech workers and to the public at large is this: Research ballot propositions on your own. When your employer tells you to vote for something because it’s what is best for the company, consider that your employer’s interests might not align with your own, or with society’s.

To employees at Uber, Lyft, DoorDash or other gig economy companies: Get to know the drivers who use your product every day. In many ways, we have more in common with these workers than we do with the executives making millions from our labor.

In November, you will have a choice to either stand with other workers and vote no on Prop 22, or align yourself with executives and billionaires by voting yes.

Stand with workers — vote no on Prop 22.


Here is the text of CA Prop 22:

Exempts App-Based Transportation and Delivery Companies from Providing Employee Benefits to Certain Drivers. Initiative Statute.

Classifies drivers for app-based transportation (rideshare) and delivery companies as “independent contractors,” not “employees,” unless company: sets drivers’ hours, requires acceptance of specific ride and delivery requests, or restricts working for other companies.

Independent contractors are not covered by various state employment laws—including minimum wage, overtime, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation.

Instead, independent-contractor drivers would be entitled to other compensation—including minimum earnings, healthcare subsidies, and vehicle insurance.

Restricts certain local regulation of app-based drivers.

Criminalizes impersonation of drivers.
1   SunnyvaleCA   ignore (1)   2020 Oct 8, 5:39pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

I know there are drivers here in Sunnyvale that are working (or whatever) in their home. When you hail them, the put down what they are doing and start driving. I know this because I've chatted with some of the drivers, asking why it took 3 minutes for their car to move originally (assuming that no traffic light in Sunnyvale is that slow). They had to first get dressed!

That said, it's not like Uber is tricking their drivers. If they don't like the work then can work elsewhere. And if you are going to complain they don't get paid enough for anything they can do, that might be true, but: Don't let millions of unskilled people into the country that compete for lowest wages.
2   Patrick   ignore (1)   2020 Oct 8, 5:47pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

SunnyvaleCA says
Don't let millions of unskilled people into the country that compete for lowest wages.





This is a far more important issue.

Illegals steal jobs.

You may say that "Americans don't want those jobs" but that's only because those jobs have such low wages due to all the illegals working for that little. Without illegals, the wages for strawberry picking would be much higher. Strawberries would cost more, but that's the right way to do things, not handing out welfare to people who lost their jobs to illegals. We have to pay one way or another. Better to pay at the checkout than pay through ever higher taxes.
3   SunnyvaleCA   ignore (1)   2020 Oct 8, 6:22pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Patrick says
Better to pay at the checkout than pay through ever higher taxes.

Higher taxes, but also: destruction of American culture and values, ever increasing population chasing finite resources, destruction of American schools, and increasing wealth inequality. I'm certainly not a progressive, but I admit a large wealth gap can create a lot of social problems.

And, I don't think the prices at the checkout would be all that much higher, either. That 10% higher cost at the checkout is money going entirely to the higher workers' pay and not the pockets of all the middlemen and profit-skimmers along the way. Plus, it would mean more automation and/or a shift into lower-labor substitutes.
4   Fortwaynemobile   ignore (3)   2020 Oct 8, 6:24pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

I voted against it. I hate it when companies carve out exceptions.
5   clambo   ignore (5)   2020 Oct 8, 6:28pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Uber and Lyft should be required to hire only legal workers.
They should be required to use E-Verify for each driver.
Then, without the abundance of drivers, the pay would rise for the drivers, Uber and Lyft would have to make it actually worthwhile to drive for them.
6   SunnyvaleCA   ignore (1)   2020 Oct 8, 6:36pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Fortwaynemobile says
I voted against it. I hate it when companies carve out exceptions.
When I read about the Uber model, it seems they were careful to structure things such that the drivers are contractors. It's been a while, but here's what I remember were the arguments for/against drivers being contractors:

Contractors typically:
• make their own hours
• buy and maintain their own equipment
• supply their own "office" and other support
• choose what projects (ride) they work on instead of being assigned work by a manager


Full-time workers typically:
• get paid a set wage for work

I don't even understand the full-time point, but somehow drivers not being able to set the price for each ride with the consumer means they are full-time employees? Seems to me that drivers do set the price for each ride they give: the price is xxx according to a formula or the price is 0 because they can choose to not take the work.

Any other for/against drivers being contractors?
7   clambo   ignore (5)   2020 Oct 8, 8:11pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Re: Patrick mentioned strawberry farming.

I recall the average profit per acre growing strawberries was $18,000/acre years ago.

It’s likely higher today.

Farmers could surely afford to pay higher wages.

Once my mother was visiting me, and as we drove to Carmel we passed strawberry farms.
“How much do they make picking them?”
I made a guess based on other farm workers I knew.
“Stop the car, I want to pick too!”
She had picked strawberries in the summer decades ago.
8   krc   ignore (0)   2020 Oct 8, 8:20pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

This is a tough proposition for me. I remember pre-Uber times and constantly getting screwed by regular taxis - if you could get one. Uber/Lyft have opened up transportation opportunities that would not have happened otherwise. Traditional cabs were not innovating and just simply believing that buying a "medallion" was all they had to do. The "old" way was relying on a monopoly and therefore no need to innovate.

Very tough call for me.
9   SunnyvaleCA   ignore (1)   2020 Oct 8, 8:28pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

krc says
This is a tough proposition for me. I remember pre-Uber times and constantly getting screwed by regular taxis - if you could get one. Uber/Lyft have opened up transportation opportunities that would not have happened otherwise. Traditional cabs were not innovating and just simply believing that buying a "medallion" was all they had to do. The "old" way was relying on a monopoly and therefore no need to innovate.

Very tough call for me.

Taxi services, it seems everywhere in the USA, are a horrible collusion of government regulation and "private enterprise" (from the usual well-connected scammers) that have conspired to screw over the actual users of the service. Rank-and-file taxi drivers are pretty unhappy too; they're willing to work, and they put in lots of hours, but the system serves them very badly. I'm glad Uber and Lyft (and others) have been able to figure out an angle to circumvent that scam to provide far better service at a far better price.
10   rox42   ignore (0)   2020 Oct 8, 9:09pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

I think Uber/Lyft should be more like E-bay. Just take a small cut of the transaction and somehow let dynamic pricing happen in the app. Let the driver set their prices. All the drivers have different economic goals on the platform from being retired and trading the market to being in college.
11   porkchopexpress   ignore (0)   2020 Oct 8, 9:28pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

If we vote No on Prop 22, won't Uber prices have to go up? Why would I want that?
12   TrumpingTits   ignore (4)   2020 Oct 8, 10:56pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Said software engineer doesn't know wtf he's talking about.
13   Hircus   ignore (0)   2020 Oct 8, 11:13pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

I think I heard most uber drivers are in favor of 22? It's because they're part time, and want to stay part time. I think I also heard something about uber threatening to leave CA if they dont get their way lol, although I kinda doubt that.

I think it's great that these unconventional "on demand" part time jobs exist. They serve a unique role that are difficult to find otherwise. For many drivers, they get to multitask, doing other things, or even working other jobs, while waiting for a rider. I think it would be unfortunate to kill that.

For those who want a stable, reliable pay check - find one of thousands of other jobs.

Contractor or not, I agree they should hire american, and verify american.
14   HeadSet   ignore (2)   2020 Oct 9, 12:17pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

SunnyvaleCA says

"Taxi services, it seems everywhere in the USA, are a horrible collusion of government regulation and "private enterprise" (from the usual well-connected scammers) that have conspired to screw over the actual users of the service. Rank-and-file taxi drivers are pretty unhappy too; they're willing to work, and they put in lots of hours, but the system serves them very badly. I'm glad Uber and Lyft (and others) have been able to figure out an angle to circumvent that scam to provide far better service at a far better price."



You pretty much nailed it. Taxi companies typically provide the vehicle, maintenance, full time commercial insurance, and dispatched fare offers to independent contractors who lease the vehicle. Lease rates are $500 to $700 a week depending on city. Taxi companies also charge a vig on credit card or account work. The Medallion system limits the amount of cabs in a locality, initially to stop oversaturation of the market. However, too many cab companies over time have abused this arrangement.. But not all localities are so abusive and an easy way to tell is to see how many of the drivers are immigrants fresh off the boat. If a company's drivers are more "native," that is White or Black or others whose families have been in the US for generations, then the cab job is good for the driver. On the other hand, if the drivers are all Somali immigrants in a city that is 95% white, then you know the cab job is too harsh and thus taken by those with no other choice.

Cab divers should be employees as well, and laws like AB5 will likely target Cab Companies after they are done with Uber/Lyft. Yes, prices will increase, but overly cheap transportation should not be on the backs of people forced to work 12 hours a day to bring home a pittance.

Also consider ADA. Cab companies typically must accommodate wheelchair accessible vehicles at the same price as the general public. This takes specialized vehicles and extra loading/unloading time. Uber/Lyft are immune from having to provide such service.
15   EBGuy   ignore (1)   2020 Oct 9, 2:55pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Just to be clear, AB5 was recently superceded by new legislation at the beginning of September, 2020. Here is a good article describing the various exemptions. that were added to AB5 (which targeted the ridesharing companies, but ended up ensnaring many other industries and professions as well).
Many independent contractors complained of dire consequences after Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) became effective in California on January 1, 2020. Following intense lobbying and public relations campaigns, independent contractors in 15 industries have now been added to AB5’s list of freelancers who are eligible for an exemption from California’s extraordinarily onerous version of the so-called “ABC” test for independent contractor status. The new version of AB5 is called Assembly Bill 2257 (AB2257). It was signed into law by the Governor of California last Friday, September 4, 2020 and replaces AB5.

AB2257 Adds Exemptions and Clarifies Others

In addition to the 50 of so industries exempted under AB5, AB2257 exempts from the ABC test a group of freelance positions from another 15 industries, including independent contractors providing the following types of services:
recording arts
music
performing arts
landscape architecture
translation of documents
copy editing and illustrations
registered professional forestry
real estate appraising
home inspections

insurance underwriting inspections, auditing, and risk management and loss control
manufactured housing sales
international and cultural exchange services
competition judging
digital content and feedback aggregation
master class performance.

Under AB5, freelance writers, photographers, photojournalists, editors, and cartoonists were exempt if they submitted content no more than 35 times a year. This arbitrary numerical limitation has been eliminated in AB 2257.
16   EBGuy   ignore (1)   2020 Oct 19, 7:32pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

More victims of AB5:
Already reeling from catastrophic revenue losses due to the pandemic, theaters will face a drastic increase in expenses — at least 30 percent of annual budgets, according to many estimates — when they reopen, as they must turn actors, stagehands, technicians, costume makers and musicians into employees to comply with California’s new gig-work law, AB5.
17   Ceffer   ignore (4)   2020 Oct 19, 7:44pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Why don't they just admit that AB5 was KommieKunt Moron Motion and repeal it.
18   NoCoupForYou   ignore (3)   2020 Oct 19, 9:27pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Taxi Driving rules are totally different depending on the locality. Don't think all taxi laws are the same nationally because of San Fran or LA.
19   CashWillCrash   ignore (0)   2020 Oct 19, 9:57pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Liberal government just wants to collect more taxes and get more control over drivers and Lyft/Uber.

Definitely vote YES on Prop 22
20   SunnyvaleCA   ignore (1)   2020 Oct 20, 12:40am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

I mark down all my "answers" on the ballot and then go back a few weeks later to check. It's rare that more than 1 or 2 of what I voted are what won. I guess I don't belong here.
21   Shaman   ignore (2)   2020 Oct 20, 4:20am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Ceffer says
Why don't they just admit that AB5 was KommieKunt Moron Motion and repeal it.


This!
My friend works in the music industry and he has found it very hard to book any gigs in the state thanks to AB5. Journalists also have been absolutely killed by the bill as have many other sorts of contract workers. Many are just moving away from California, as they won’t get work in their field here because of the law. It’s too easy to use an out of state contractor instead.
22   just_adhom_preaching   ignore (7)   2020 Oct 20, 9:29am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

I voted for it but feel dirty about it. Part of me wanted to vote against just to accelerate the failure of CA. Voting for a carve out while other people who want to be independent contractors are fucked just feels sort of wrong.

CA: Where you can't fucking work for yourself unless you're owner-class.
23   Eric Holder   ignore (1)   2020 Oct 20, 10:11am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

I voted against on the general principle. Fuck carveouts.
24   APOCALYPSEFUCKisShostakovitch   ignore (57)   2020 Oct 20, 10:24am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

The law is whatever Uber says it is and the drivers are whatever status Uber decides for any reason or no reason which Uber can change at their convenience for any reason or no reason.

Any other scenario is anarchistic fascistic communism that only sends BLM Saracens into the street to murder white men and rape their wives and daughters.
25   RecentCost   ignore (0)   2020 Oct 26, 9:52am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Ceffer says
Why don't they just admit that AB5 was KommieKunt Moron Motion and repeal it.


Exactly. This is why I'm voting no. Independent contractors in California are getting screwed and essentially losing their jobs because the state of California wants to collect more tax revenue. Prop 22 is attempting shield blame from the CA government if Lyft and Uber leave the state. The benefits of Prop 58 will be substantially reduced if Prop 19 passes. Prop 15 will increase property taxes on businesses. Guess who ends up paying for the property tax increases? Everyone, since businesses are forced to increase their prices. Useful idiots hear the phrase "they need to pay their fair share" and rally around the half-baked cause.

I'm voting no on all propositions in CA.
26   mell   ignore (6)   2020 Oct 26, 9:55am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

CA likely isn't fixable anymore until there's a reset and we the leftoid thugs get voted out.
27   EBGuy   ignore (1)   2020 Oct 26, 2:00pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

RecentCost says

I'm voting no on all propositions in CA.

That is, in general, a good rule of thumb for CA Propositions.

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