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Bill Would Give 'Gig Economy' Workers Collective Bargaining Rights

Jeff  Chiu / AP

In this Jan. 4, 2013 photo, Lyft driver Nancy Tcheou uses her phone to accept a ride from a passenger in San Francisco.

Jeff Chiu / AP

Brian Watt | KPCC

A bill introduced in the California State Assembly would create a way for workers in the "gig economy" to organize.

If Lorena Gonzalez’ proposal becomes law, 10 or more Lyft drivers or Task Rabbit taskers who want to bargain together with those companies for better wages or benefits could do it. 

Gonzalez says in today’s economy, more companies are turning to the independent contractor model.

"It saves them money, but it could cost the state a lot of money," she says. "You’re talking about workers who have no protections if they’re hurt on the job."

She sees the bill as the start of a discussion about how to give a growing category of workers more rights on the job.

"It’s time for these businesses to realize we’ve got to equal the playing field just a little bit here and give workers some power to be able to negotiate and some leverage to be able to do it collectively," she says.

According to Democratic political consultant Steve Maviglio, the discussion around this issue will be tense.

"It pits the new economy versus the old economy, and it pits a lot political forces against each other in an election year," he says.

The California Chamber of Commerce has already said the bill would hurt the state’s job climate.

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