Independent Contractors Rally at Capitol to Request Work Flexibility Protections, Dynamex Fix

This morning, a coalition of independent drivers, and civil rights and community leaders are gathering at the State Capitol to bring focus to the need to fix the independent contractor classification test set forth by Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles.

Among the speakers listed for today’s event are:

  • Alice Huffman, California National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President;
  • Lynn Reagan, a mother of two and a grandmother who does on-demand deliveries to help support her family;
  • Akamine Kiarie, a rideshare driver who values flexibility because he is a student.;
  • Tamara Krake, a human resources professional who does on-demand deliveries to help meet her financial goals;
  • Keith Garlough, a rideshare driver who enjoys the flexibility of setting his own schedule and choosing his days off;
  • Derrick Bagley, a rideshare driver who loves the fact that he can make his own schedule and being able to help people;
  • Emmanuel Mondragon, a rideshare driver who enjoys the flexibility rideshare driving offers because he’s able to pick up his daughter from school and make time for his family;
  •  Pam McClammy, a rideshare driver who recently went through a difficult divorce and did not have the means or resources to pay her bills;
  • Nick Andrade II, a rideshare driver who after being unemployed and suffering from anxiety for 10 years, found reentering the traditional workforce challenging.

The coalition, which represents more than 47,000 independent contractors, is asking legislators to reach a solution that adapts Dynamex‘s standards to a modern economy that protects work flexibility, while also providing certain benefits and pay standards. Surveys consistently show that independent contractors prefer independent work over traditional employment, with contractors citing flexibility as the top reason. According to an EMC Research Poll surveying independent contractors, only 7% of respondents said they would prefer to become an employee and no longer be classified as an independent contractor. In fact, most respondents said they would opt to remain independent contractors rather than become employees.

Today’s Economy, Needs

In Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, the California Supreme Court rejected the long-standing Borello test (where employer control over the worker was a key) and adopted the three-part “ABC” test for determining whether workers should be classified as either employees or independent contractors. The case was brought to the courts before the smartphone was ever introduced, and thus before people had convenient access to gig jobs and services, as offered by companies such as Uber, Lyft, and Postmates, among many others.

The court’s guidelines have far-reaching consequences in relation to worker regulations and their protection under California law, according to Beacon Economics in “Understanding California’s Dynamex Decision 2018.” While specifically related to the delivery service industry, the Dynamex decision “will potentially make it more difficult for companies to classify workers as independent contractors in other sectors of the economy,” writes Beacon Economics.

The coalition this morning echoes what many independent contractors throughout the state want to preserve: flexible schedules that can adapt quickly to a contractor’s needs and wishes. Without a fix, the coalition warns, Californians in the gig industry will see their work opportunities limited, and will need to abide by more stringent schedules where they won’t be able to decide when or where to work. Moreover, independent workers who want to work for only a few hours each week to make ends meet may no longer have that opportunity. Independent drivers who earn income and are paid each day may no longer have that option due to current California law.

In a commentary authored for CALmatters, California Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Allan Zaremberg points out that work models have changed dramatically, but employment laws remain the same. Zaremberg called on the Legislature to establish new laws and protections to fit the state’s dynamic economy.

“The Legislature must get off the sidelines and set the ground rules for the networked, innovative, on-demand economy, not by rolling back the clock as if the gig economy doesn’t exist, but by recognizing and supporting nontraditional workers,” Zaremberg writes.