- The California NAACP chapter has publicly endorsed Uber and Lyft’s controversial Prop 22 ballot measure, and public records show that its president’s consulting firm took payment for helping the measure’s campaign get the word out.
- According to public records, Uber and Lyft’s Yes on Prop 22 campaign has paid Alice Huffman’s firm, AC Public Affairs, $US85,000 since February as the companies have ramped up efforts to urge voters to green-light the measure.
- Prop 22 would exempt Uber and Lyft from classifying their drivers as employees, a move that labour activists say could harm communities of colour.
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Uber and Lyft have paid $US85,000 to a consulting firm run by Alice Huffman, president of California’s NAACP chapter, as she has voiced her support for Prop 22, public finance records show. The contested ballot measure would require rideshare companies and other who rely on contract workers to pay those independent contractors as employees.
According to a report Wednesday from CNET’s Dara Kerr â€” as well as reports from Prospect and Cal Matters from September â€” Uber and Lyft’s Yes on Proposition 22 campaign had paid $US85,000 from February through September 30 to Huffman’s consulting firm for “campaign consultants” services. And as Cal Matters reported, this isn’t the first time that Huffman’s firm, AC Public Affairs, has taken payment from ballot measure campaigns.
Huffman was one of several signees on a letter dated July 20 urging the California State Legislature to support Prop 22. “Driving with these platforms provides an accessible, low barrier-to-entry way to earn income for those who often find traditional employment challenging â€” communities of colour, seniors, disabled veterans and those formerly incarcerated,” the letter reads. The California-Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP is also listed as an official supporter of the measure on the campaign’s website.
And a campaign ad that started running on Facebook last month read: “CA NAACP President notes politicians are stubbornly advancing disastrous laws and lawsuits that threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs for our people. That’s why the organisation supports Prop 22,” according to CNET.
The payments come as Uber, Lyft, and others have already been hard at work amplifying the ballot measure, plugging in Prop 22 messaging into its various apps and forcing users and drivers to navigate through them to use the platforms. They have been sending other digital messages to get the word out about the measure as well. As CNET notes, the payments and an endorsement from the NAACP also come as the nation this year has grappled with social justice issues.
Prop 22 would exempt the likes of Uber and Lyft from having to classify their drivers as employees, thereby skirting increased labour costs, and instead create a fund to cover employee health and work benefits. But drivers still wouldn’t be classified as full- or -part-time employees, and labour advocates say that the measure would harm people of colour, many of whom make up the firms’ driver base in California as CNET explains. At least 55% of Uber’s drivers in the US are not white, according to a report released by the company.
In a statement to Business Insider, Yes on Prop 22 spokesperson Geoff Vetter said that “Prop 22 saves app-based jobs and provides drivers strong new benefits, like a minimum earnings guarantee and health care. That’s why it’s supported by nearly 120,000 drivers, NAACP California, the National Action Network Sacramento Chapter, and more than 100 social justice, business groups, and community advocacy organisations. Alice Huffman is working with the Yes on Prop 22 campaign to support outreach efforts in communities of colour because of the significant impact the loss of app-based rideshare and delivery services will have on Black and brown Californians.”
Spokespeople for Lyft and the NAACP did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s requests for comment.
The Prop 22 California ballot measure was created by Uber, Lyft, and other gig-based companies in response to the state’s AB5, a law designed to force firms to classify their workers as employees instead of independent contractors.
Some drivers reportedly support the measure, since it allows them to work flexibly. But labour advocates have argued that contract drivers would still not be considered full- or part-time employees. AB5 itself has also received pushback for dealing a blow to freelancers and contractors across various industries.
California residents will vote on Prop 22 in the November election. If it doesn’t pass, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said on Tuesday that fares would rise up to 80% in the state to compensate for the increased labour costs that the company would incur.
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