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Posted on: Jan 25, 2021
The first official legal challenge to Proposition 22 has been filed with the California Supreme Court, and CAAA has joined in the effort in hopes of restoring access to workers’ compensation for thousands of gig workers throughout the state.
 
On January 12, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), along with a small group of app-based drivers, filed an emergency petition in the California Supreme Court requesting that Prop 22 be invalidated. The main argument contends the proposition illegally superseded the state legislature’s exclusive plenary power to establish a system of workers’ compensation for gig workers.
 
The petition states, in part, “By purporting to remove app-based drivers from California’s workers’ compensation system – and by purporting to limit the Legislature’s authority to extend workers’ compensation benefits to this group of workers in the future – Proposition 22 conflicts with article XIV, section 4” of the California Constitution.
 
The petition further argues Prop 22 violates the single-subject rule governing ballot propositions by burying provisions in the measure’s language related to the legislature’s ability to amend the law.
 
“The measure grossly deceived the voters, who were not told they were voting to prevent the Legislature from granting the drivers collective bargaining rights, or to preclude the Legislature from providing incentives for companies to give app-based drivers more than the minimal wages and benefits provided by Proposition 22,” the petition states.
 
On January 15, CAAA submitted an amicus curiae letter to the California Supreme in support of the petition seeking review, arguing Prop 22 bypassed the Legislature in its creation of a new class of workers (with severely limited rights) in violation of the Constitution.
 
“If allowed to stand, the legislation enacted as a result of the initiative would provide a road map for other industries to escape that plenary power and create their own parallel systems depriving workers of the “substantial justice in all cases expeditiously, inexpensively and without incumbrance of any character” which is the declared public policy of the State. (California Constitution Article XIV, Section 4),” CAAA’s letter states. (To view CAAA's letter in full, click here.)
 
The repercussions of Prop 22 are already being felt by some employees as Albertson’s recently announced they’d be jumping on the gig worker bandwagon by outsourcing hundreds of food delivery jobs to DoorDash nationwide.
 
In a statement to WorkCompCentral, CAAA executive director Diane Worley noted, “The move from Albertson’s does not come as a surprise since the writing was on the wall, and I’m sure we’ll see more companies make similar moves to avoid paying for the basic protections their employees deserve.”
 
The California Supreme Court has yet to decide whether or not to grant review. For the sake of gig workers across the country, we hope the Court takes up the case and grants relief for the petitioners.