In a Win for Gig Workers, Uber-Backed Prop 22 Ruled Unconstitutional by California Judge

California Judge Proposition 22 - a controversial 2020 ballot measure, was declared unconstitutional by a California judge Friday night. The law is not enforceable. This is a surprise win for gig workers. This ruling is a win for gig workers, who are exempted by state labor laws. It also means a setback to companies like Uber or Lyft.


Judge Frank Roesch, Alameda County Superior Court, ruled that Prop 22 was unconstitutional as it restricts the power of future legislatures to classify app-based drivers workers under workers compensation law.

Prop 22 was created by a group of gig companies like Uber, Lyft and Doordash. It would have required these companies classify independent contractors such as drivers and delivery people as employees. This would have meant that they could guarantee basic worker protections such as paid sick days, minimum wages, unemployment benefits, and other worker benefits. All of this would have been very useful in a pandemic. The measure passed with 58% support in late 2013. It was reportedly pushed by these companies who spent over $200 million.

Prop 22 was passed and laid the foundation for similar laws to be passed in other states. Labor groups across the U.S. celebrated Friday's ruling.

This is a significant blow to Uber/Big Tech's campaign to avoid paying taxes, pay workers fairly and avoid liability to customers. Mike Firestone, director for the Massachusetts branch, of the Coalition to Protect Workers Rights said in a statement. We stand with California's working people as we oppose their copycat lobbying campaign for $100 million to create a permanent subclass of workers in Massachusetts.

Shona Clarkson was the organizer of Gig Workers Rising and she echoed Firestones sentiments calling Prop 22 an illegal corporate power grab.

Clarkson stated in an email that Prop 22 was an illegal corporate power grab. It not only took the wages, benefits, and rights owed gig workers, but also eliminated the regulation power of our elected officials. This allowed a few rogue corporations to continue acting above the law. Prop 22 is dangerous not only for gig workers, but also for democracy. This fight will continue until gig workers are paid living wages, benefits, and a voice for the work they do.


Uber sent Gizmodo a statement in which he described the decision of the judge as a subversion and promised to appeal it.

This ruling disregards the will and logic of the vast majority of California voters. Uber spokesperson stated that the constitutionality of Prop 22 was defended by California's Attorney General in this case. We expect to win and will appeal. Prop 22 is still in force, with all the benefits and protections it offers to independent workers throughout the state.


Lyft asked Gizmodo for comment and directed it to a statement by Protect App-Based Drivers & Services Coalition(PADS), formerly the Yes on Prop 22 Coalition. The spokesperson also stated that the group would appeal the decision.

We believe that the judge committed a grave error in failing to consider a century of case law that required courts to protect the voters' right of initiative. Geoff Vetter, spokesperson for PADS, stated that this outrageous decision was an insult to the overwhelming majority California voters who voted for Prop 22. We plan to appeal immediately and we are confident that the Appellate Court will affirm Prop 22. The Superior Court's ruling is not binding, and our appeal will be stayed immediately. All provisions of Prop 22 will continue to be in force until the appeal process is completed.


Doordash has not yet responded to the judges' decision.

Roesch's ruling is based on a February case brought by the Service Employees International Union and a group independent contractors. The California Supreme Court had already dismissed a lawsuit brought by the parties, arguing that it should be filed in a lower court.


Workers rights organizations see Friday's ruling as victory over corporations that use their war chests and crush gig workers, despite the impending appeals.

Uber, Lyft and DoorDash want to take over the market using monopoly practices. They tried to buy our democracy by lying about Prop 22 with their $200 million campaign. Erik Forman, cofounder of New York's group The Drivers Cooperative, stated in an email that he created Uber's driver-owned competitor Coop Ride. They can't buy the truth that all workers should have equal rights. It's that simple.


Read Judge Roeschs full ruling below:


This is still a developing story. Keep checking back for more updates.