SAN FRANCISCO—Over 100 organized ride-share drivers have filed wage claims against Uber and Lyft to the sum of millions of dollars. On January 5, the claims were filed at the San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, California Labor Commission offices.
The wage theft campaign “People’s Enforcement of AB5,” organized with the Rideshare Drivers United, a grassroots driver-group of more than 10,000 members in California.
Drivers are asking for the enforcement of AB 5, a law regarding contract workers that took effect on January 1, 2020. They want to pressure state officials into enforcing the law so that they would be reclassified as employees who are owed three year’s back-pay, gas reimbursement, overtime compensation, and the cost of the natural wear-and-tear of their vehicles.
Uber and Lyft have spent millions of dollars alongside Postmates and Doordash to overturn the law. They argue that providing benefits would ruin the foundation of their business models.
According to the Labor Commissioner’s Office website, the formula for calculating back-wages takes into consideration the minimum wage, overtime, and reimbursement for basic expenses, all of which accounts for up to three years retroactively.
Labor enforcers in California are able to determine that workers have been misclassified and are owed wages, but California cannot decide that workers are full-time or authorize the collective bargaining process—that matter falls under federal law. Governor Gavin Newsom indicates that a new route to employee organizing that is specific to California could hurdle the federal determination.
Drivers in the area argue that Lyft and Uber have cut their pay over the years, and some San Francisco drivers claim they earn lower than the city’s $15.59 minimum wage requirement. The individual wage claims range from thousands of dollars to over $100,000.