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California Dems Seek Death Penalty for Uber and Lyft

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File

I know you've been busy binging the exciting coverage of the Democrat National Convention.

But have you heard the latest bit of horrible news from the once golden state of California?

I don't mean the 367 wildfires that are out of control and charring the hills of Northern California.

Or the heat wave and the rolling blackouts caused by the high electricity demand for air conditioning.

I'm talking about the possible disappearance from California of the popular ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft.

Both companies were planning to completely shut down their California operations at midnight Thursday rather than comply with a terrible state law called AB5.

AB5, which became law in January, was deliberately written by Democrats in the state Assembly who are out to destroy the future of Uber and Lyft in California by forcing them to reclassify their independent 1099 contract drivers as employees.

Uber and Lyft, which were born in San Francisco barely more than a decade ago, became household names across the United States by providing quick, reliable, cheap, 24/7 transportation for millions of urban and suburban people in cities where government-protected taxicab monopolies had robbed the poor and the carless with high fares and horrible service for decades.

Until the COVID-19 shutdown in March crushed America's economy and wiped out our social lives, about a million Americans of all ages worked for Uber and Lyft as full- or part-time independent contract drivers. More than 100,000 of them worked in California.

The ultimate "gig" workers, Uber and Lyft drivers use their own cars and work when, where, and how much they want. They have no boss.

About 80 percent are part-timers who work fewer than 15 hours a week and can make a few hundred extra bucks.

But I've had drivers tell me they supported their families by ubering 50 hours a week and clearing $45,000 a year.

Obviously, California's leftist Democrats don't really care when gig workers lose their jobs. They only care about union workers - and unions hate gig, freelance, and independent workers.

In fact, if unions had their way, they'd outlaw all 1099 contract workers and force every employee to be a full-timer with all the job protections and benefits known to the modern working man.

On Thursday afternoon, a California appeals court gave Uber and Lyft another five days to comply with a previous court order requiring them to show how they plan to obey AB5.

That made the stock prices of Lyft and Uber jump a point or two, but it's only going to delay the inevitable showdown.

Neither company has yet to make a profit. And they know that complying with AB5 would force them to raise their prices, hire fewer drivers, reduce their service and make it even harder to make money in California.

That's why each company has invested about $30 million to put Proposition 22 on the November ballot.

Prop 22 would override AB5 and classify app-based ride-hail drivers and food delivery people like those working for DoorDash and UberEats as independent contractors and not employees.

It's my bet - and hope - that Uber and Lyft are so popular, so useful, and so much a part of the culture that the nutty liberal people of California will wake up and vote for Prop 22 and foil the evil scheme of the Democrats.

What the leftist Democrats are trying to do to Uber and Lyft - kill or cripple them to please their union bedfellows - is a frightening example of what happens in a one-party state that's been run by corrupt politicians for decades.

Scarier still, it's also the kind of abuse of power that the whole country can expect next year if Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer win control of Washington this fall.

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