- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Rideshare app maker Uber said Wednesday it will continue to classify California drivers as contractors, working to adapt to forthcoming state legislation designed to make it harder for them to do so.

“Because we continue to believe drivers are properly classified as independent, and because we’ll continue to be responsive to what the vast majority of drivers tell us they want most — flexibility — drivers will not be automatically reclassified as employees, even after January of next year,” said Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer, in a statement

Gov. Gavin Newsom has indicated he will sign AB 5, a bill passed out of both houses of the state legislature that will put in place more stringent criteria for who can qualify as a contractor rather than an employee.

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The bill’s advocates say they intend to make it harder for employers in the state to use the so-called gig-economy model made famous by services like Uber and Lyft to provide workers with protections a normal employee would receive like minimum wage and health benefits.

Mr. West said they should be able to work around the restrictions, and hinted that the rideshare company may take the state to court.

“We expect we will continue to respond to claims of misclassification in arbitration and in court as necessary, just as we do now, but we will also continue to advocate for the independence and choice that drivers tell us again and again in surveys, polls, focus groups, and personal conversations that they value most,” he said.

Mr. West added Uber, Lyft and meal-delivery service DoorDash would advocate for a state bill allowing their contractors “the flexible access to on-demand work they enjoy today.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the gig-based platforms’ labor costs would rise 30% should they be forced to classify their drivers as employees.

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