State Watch

Warren endorses California bill to treat gig workers as employees

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Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) endorsed a California bill that would classify “gig economy” workers as employees.

Companies such as Uber, Postmates and DoorDash typically classify workers as “independent contractors,” Warren writes, in an editorial for The Sacramento Bee, “allowing employers to deny workers basic protections like the right to organize, wage and hour laws, health care coverage and protections against sexual harassment.”

{mosads}Although the trucking and construction industries have long engaged in the same practice, Warren writes, ride-hailing and delivery apps and other fixtures in the “gig economy” have significantly expanded its use.

The state legislation, AB 5, would make “employee” the default status for workers, similar to existing law in Massachusetts that has been in effect for years.

“The test is flexible enough that there is no need for an extensive array of exclusions. Working within the framework of the test, doctors or hair stylists or lawyers can set up their businesses to preserve the use of independent contractor status,” Warren writes.

“Carving up the statute with scores of exclusions only serves to weaken protections for millions of workers who need it,” she adds.

Warren also decries the “armies of lawyers, lobbyists and consultants” that she claims gig companies have dispatched to spread disinformation about the bill or water it down to the point of nullifying its effects.

“I’m fighting for an America where everybody – even the biggest, richest and most well-connected companies – plays by the rules,” Warren writes. “Passing AB 5 gets us closer to that ideal.”

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