Gig companies break $200M barrier in California ballot fight

A Lyft rideshare waits at a traffic light in Sacramento, Calif. Rich Pedroncelli, File / AP

OAKLAND – California officially has its first $ 200 million election campaign powered by the domestic tech industry.

Proposition 22 has always been an enormously expensive fight. Five gig economy companies invested $ 110 million right at the beginning of their efforts to get rid of a new state law that could force them to treat app subpoenas as employees rather than contractors.

The campaign met these expectations. An expense of US $ 3.75 million by DoorDash at the end of October increased the amount donated by the supporters to around US $ 203 million. Virtually everything comes from five companies trying to keep their contractor-based business models: Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Instacart, and DoorDash.

The implications: The Prop 22 campaign has always been a financial mismatch. While organized labor has made a significant impact on California politics, the union-led opposition campaign has raised approximately $ 20 million. That used to be a decent amount in California election campaigns, but is only a tenth of what its opponents committed.

Despite those one-sided numbers that helped the Yes side saturate California’s air waves, polls suggest Prop 22 may fail. A poll by Berkeley IGS earlier this month found the measure out of majority and called for support from 46 percent of likely voters.

The bigger context: Previously, the fundraising record for a single page of an initiative campaign was the $ 111 million kidney dialysis company issued in 2018 to fight back Proposition 8. The tech industry was ready to destroy this from the start.

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