Service Employees International Union, Drivers, and Consumer File Constitutional Challenge to Proposition 22 in California Supreme Court

On Tuesday, January 12, 2021, the Service Employees International Union (“SEIU”), SEIU California, three drivers, and a consumer filed a constitutional challenge to Proposition 22, the November 2020 ballot measure that purported to exempt, from California’s labor and employment protections, drivers who work for transportation and delivery companies like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart.  These companies have long misclassified their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, depriving them of the protections of state law.  Instead of complying with the clear mandates of the law after the enactment of Assembly Bill 5, the companies decided to spend over $200 million to convince voters to adopt a ballot measure exempting them.  However, as the petition filed today in the California Supreme Court demonstrates, that ballot measure violates the California Constitution and must be invalidated.

First, Proposition 22 deprives the California Legislature of its constitutional authority to establish and maintain a workers’ compensation system that protects workers’ health and safety and compensates workers in the event of workplace injuries.  Because Proposition 22 provides that the entire initiative is invalid if any application of its provision designating drivers as independent contractors is held invalid, Proposition 22 is invalid in its entirety.  Second, by designating certain subjects that are not even addressed by Proposition 22 as “amendments” to Proposition 22 that are off-limits to the Legislature except by a 7/8 vote of both houses, Proposition 22 interferes with the constitutional authority of the judicial branch to decide what constitutes an amendment to a ballot measure.  Third, in doing so, Proposition 22 also interferes with the California Legislature’s constitutional authority to legislate in areas that the ballot measure does not address.  Fourth, the provisions of Proposition 22 purporting to define “amendments” violate the California Constitution’s single subject rule, a constitutional mandate that protects voters against deceptive initiatives and that requires that Proposition 22 be struck down in its entirety.

The California Supreme Court filing can be found here.

Altshuler Berzon LLP is counsel for petitioners in the case, along with Olson Remcho LLP