Approved California Props May Send Ripples Through Other States

California voters seem to have approved Propositions 22 and 24, which concerned gig workers and data privacy, respectively. Experts suggest that both measures will have ripple effects across the U.S.

Sacramento Capitol building
News outlets have projected that Propositions 22 and 24 were approved by California voters on Election Day, and several experts believe these measures could have substantial ramifications beyond the state of California. 

Proposition 22 allows companies like Uber and Lyft to continue employing individuals as independent contractors, as opposed to employees who would be entitled to benefits guaranteed by state law such as unemployment insurance and sick leave. According to Ballotpedia, no other proposition in California's history has been backed by as much money.

Although many labor rights critics were against Proposition 22, gig workers under the measure will be entitled to some benefits. 

"California voters have spoken, and they stood with more than a million drivers who clearly said they want independence plus benefits," said Anthony Foxx, Lyft's chief policy officer and former U.S. Secretary of Transportation, according to Fox Business. "Prop 22 is now the first law in the nation requiring health, disability and earnings benefits for gig workers."

Others were not as optimistic about the implications of the law. 

"Uber and Lyft figure if they win in California they can win political fights in the rest of the states, and probably Congress," Robert Reich, public policy professor at UC Berkeley, told CNN Business. "Labor unions recognize its importance as well. If Uber and Lyft win this, more employers around the country will classify more of their employees as contract workers. That would mean big savings to employers, since contract workers don't get Social Security or worker's compensation, minimum wage, or other labor protections. By the same token, workers would be disadvantaged."

Meanwhile, Proposition 24 adds to privacy legislation that California passed in 2018. The new measure gives consumers greater ability to tell businesses not to share their information and establishes the Privacy Protection Agency in California. 

As described by Business Insider, Proposition 24 makes "it harder for Facebook and Google to track people's activity through third parties, which could make much of the tech giants' advertising business models obsolete." 

Raju Vegesna, chief evangelist for Zoho, told Business Insider that he thinks companies and governments will keep taking aim at entities that track consumers digitally, as more and more citizens have expressed concerns about their data being used without their knowledge.

Andrew Yang, former Democratic presidential candidate, told ABC7 in October that Proposition 24 would put tech companies on high alert because it gives power to a new set of regulators as well as district attorneys. Yang also said California would set a tone for the nation if the measure passed. 

"After this becomes the law in California, I believe other states are going to look up and say, 'Why do Californians have all these data and privacy rights that we don't have?'" Yang said. 

Jed Pressgrove has been a writer and editor for about 15 years. He received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in sociology from Mississippi State University.