Prop. 22: Rideshare-driver measure is most expensive in California history

Proposition 22 has become the most expensive measure in California history with over $204 million contributed to this single issue.
Proposition 22 has become the most expensive measure in California history with more than $204 million contributed to this single issue.

The proposition would create an exception to a state law known as AB5 that tried to give workers more protections like health care and paid time off by limiting who companies could call freelance workers or independent contractors.

Proposition 22 would create an exception for app-based delivery companies, like Uber and Lyft, allowing them to continue designating drivers as independent contractors while still offering some benefits.

RELATED | Prop. 22 explained
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The California Legislature picked a fight with Uber and Lyft and other companies when it passed AB5, classifying their drivers as employees. The tech companies are fighting back with Proposition 22.

"They wrote this ballot initiative to help them, not us," said Jerome Gage, a rideshare driver who opposes Proposition 22.

"If 22 doesn't pass, I am afraid it will take away the flexibility that I have right now," said Damiais Eusebio, a food delivery driver who supports Proposition 22 and has appeared in commercials for the "Yes Campaign."

By Oct. 14, the "Yes on 22 Campaign" had received nearly $189 million and opponents had received nearly $16 million.

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Between July 29 and Oct. 27, the "Yes on 22 Campaign" spent more than $6.5 million on Facebook advertisements, more than either presidential campaigns.

President Donald Trump's campaign spent roughly $3.6 million and Joe Biden's campaign spent roughly $4.6 million, according to ad data from Facebook.

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Voters have been peppered with advertisements from both sides of the campaign leading up to the election, making the proposition one of the most recognized issues this year.

"There is a lot of advertising, no matter where you look. You see it on the internet, you see it on TV, you see it in the mail," said Amanda Clarke Cohn, a hairdresser and owner or Roots Salon in La Verne.

Cohn and her colleagues had an extra interest in the proposition because they are also independent contractors, like app-based delivery drivers, but she and her colleagues are exempt from the California law known as AB5, which began requiring certain companies to treat freelance workers as employees.

"There are definitely perks to being a full-time employee but then you lose the flexibility," Cohn said.

"I could be an employee, but I like my job and I like my work," said Paula Medina, as the two women cut hair and discussed the proposition.

Dr. Fernando Guerra, Loyola Marymount University political science professor and director of the Center of the Study of Los Angeles, called the big spending behind this measure a failure of the political system.

"It is a failure of the political system that we couldn't resolve the issue and one party felt so aggrieved it was willing to spend close to 200 million to change the outcome," Guerra said.

Guerra added that while big spending can raise awareness and help an election it does not guarantee success.

"Money is a necessary evil to be successful," Guerra said. "But, it's not a given."

In recent weeks, a poll of likely voters by UC Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies found growing support for the measure among likely voters with 46% of voters expressing support for the measure, up from 39% in September.

CA Prop 22 Poll

"I think it's going to be absolutely close," Guerra said. "I think it will probably pass but barely, but it could also lose."

At Roots Salon in La Verne, Cohn and Medina also think the measure will narrowly pass and they admit they believe all the advertising has had an impact.

"You can't miss it," Cohn said.

"Because the need right now to have things delivered to your home is huge," Medina added.
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