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Is the gig economy bill a disaster or triumph for ride-hailing? Depends on who you ask

Uber and Lyft have been warning drivers about the end of flexible schedules, and passengers about more expensive rides that take longer to arrive, all thanks to a California bill that passed this week

But drivers and other gig workers are celebrating what could be a pathway to fair pay, benefits, and other employee rights, which some claim will come at only a slight cost to riders.

After the bill, called AB5, makes its way to the governor’s desk, it should go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. It would make companies reclassify many independent contractors as employees, something Uber and Lyft have opposed. 

While this would directly affect drivers and other gig economy workers, like the 200,000 in California working for Uber, the people who use the apps could also see changes. 

The New York Times cited “industry officials” who say costs for companies like Uber and Lyft could rise by 20 to 30 percent because of AB5. Other industry experts like Michael Droke, a partner at Dorsey & Whitney in California, a law firm that has represented big companies like 3M and Wells Fargo in labor disputes, also sees costs going up for companies and prices going up for riders. 

“Many industries rely on independent contractors to deliver products and services, from food delivery to software coding and design. Those workers will be converted to employees, significantly increasing the cost of the products and services,” Droke said. 

Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, which supports deregulation, said the law could force people to “seek out alternatives.” Instead of ordering a cheap ride, he thinks people will be forced to do things like carpool, hail a cab, or find a nearby bus.

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