California state ballot measure declaring ride-share drivers independent contractors unconstitutional: judge

California state ballot measure declaring ride-share drivers independent contractors unconstitutional: judge
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A California judge said in a Friday ruling a state ballot measure passed in November declaring Uber and Lyft drivers independent contractors is unconstitutional.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch said the ballot measure, labeled Proposition 22, is unconstitutional for violating state laws and state ballot measure laws, The Washington Post reported.

The measure violated the legislature’s ability to amend the proposition and was not limited to a single subject, the judge said.

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Proposition 22 said the state legislature could only amend the measure with a seven-eighths vote, going against the state constitution.

The measure would also make it so the legislature could not easily amend the proposition to let workers collectively bargain against the company, the judge said, according to the Post.

“A prohibition on legislation authorizing collective bargaining by app-based drivers does not promote the right to work as an independent contractor, nor does it protect work flexibility, nor does it provide minimum workplace safety and pay standards for those workers,” Roesch wrote in the ruling. “It appears only to protect the economic interest of the network companies in having a divided, ununionized workforce, which is not a stated goal of the legislation.”

The ruling has immediately come under scrutiny with Uber and Protect App-Based Drivers & Services Coalition (PADS), who is supporting the proposition.

“This ruling ignores the will of the overwhelming majority of California voters and defies both logic and the law. You don’t have to take our word for it: California’s Attorney General strongly defended Prop 22’s constitutionality in this very case,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill. 

“We will appeal and we expect to win," they added. "Meanwhile, Prop 22 remains in effect, including all of the protections and benefits it provides independent workers across the state.”

PADS mimicked Uber’s statement, saying the group will appeal the judge's decision.

“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. This outrageous decision is an affront to the overwhelming majority of California voters who passed Prop 22,” Geoff Vetter, spokesperson for PADS, said in a statement.

“We will file an immediate appeal and are confident the Appellate Court will uphold Prop 22," Vetter continued. "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.”

Uber and Lyft drivers were previously labeled as independent contractors before a California state law in 2019 changed them to employees.

Proposition 22 was passed in November with 59 percent of California residents voting to approve it.