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Valley Uber/Lyft drivers speak out on new employment bill

California lawmakers are in the process of rewriting the rules of employment with a new bill that could mean more job benefits and pay guarantees for hundreds of thousands of workers.

Sweeping changes could come under the bill, called AB 5, which would force companies to view independent contractors, like ride-share drivers for Uber and Lyft, as fully-fledged employees.

Kenneth Martinson has been driving for Uber and Lyft for more than 3 years, completing about 6,000 rides. He attended a rally in Sacramento earlier this week to voice his support for AB 5, which would offer him new protections like a minimum wage and health insurance.

“Every single decision they make is always in their favor and it’s never in our favor,” Martinson said. ” We simply have no say in any of this; we don’t have a seat at the table.”

Martinson said his pay has steadily decreased since he began driving, down a weekly average about $1,000 from when he started.

“It’s just been nickeling and diming us left and right as far as reducing surges and reducing the per-minute and per-mile rates,” he said.

This legislation would give him and other drivers the ability to band together and stand up against their corporations.

“Once this bill goes through, we will be able to unionize so that is going to be our ammunition,” Martinson said.

Lyft sent its drivers a notice today warning of a loss of independence regarding shifts and locations — a concern for ride-share driver Jefferson Nelson.

“This allows me to be able to see my family, run errands, turn it off and have that freedom to work when I want to work,” Nelson said.

On top of that, he said clients could have to pay more to counter the added employee benefits.

AB 5 passed the state assembly last night and now heads to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk. He has voiced support for the legislation in the past.

But Uber and Lyft committed $60 million to fund a 2020 ballot measure that would create a new, alternate classification for drivers.

You can reach Jake on Twitter, Facebook or email him at jake.ingrassia@kesq.com.

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KESQ News Team

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