Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and others are working on a new plan to stymie Washington's efforts to promote unions. The companies are launching a campaign to run ads on TV and online in an effort to convince lawmakers not to classify workers as employees, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The campaign will oppose the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, a bill that would make it easier for gig workers to unionize and set a timeline for unionization negotiations. Tech companies and gig workers have been fighting over the PRO Act since early 2021, and President Joe Biden most recently voiced approval for it during his State of the Union address last week. The House approved the bill last year, but it has stalled in the Senate for several months.
The TV and online ads feature workers who say they would prefer being an independent contractor instead of an employee because it provides more flexibility. “If I want to work 20 minutes a week, or 30 hours, I can do that,” one worker says in the ad. “When I need a day off to study for a big exam, I can do that,” another worker says. The companies plan to spend over $1 million on the commercials, according to the Journal.
“Flex gives [people] a voice at the policy-making table so they can continue to help drive the American economy forward," Flex CEO Kristin Sharp said in a statement. "Our first campaign highlights the flexibility of app-based work and explains why it is so important to workers.”
Efforts to classify gig workers as employees are happening at the state level, too. The state of Washington has passed a bill in the House and Senate that would provide ride-hailing workers with benefits, including paid sick time and workers' compensation. But the legislation stops short of classifying independent contractors as employees, after Uber, Lyft and the Teamsters Local 117 union came to a deal.
The two ride-hailing companies have fought to classify drivers as contractors in California too, through the Proposition 22 fight. A judge ruled last summer that law was unconstitutional, but Uber and Lyft appealed the ruling, at least temporarily preventing worker protections from taking effect.
This story has been updated with Flex's statement.