Opinion

Dynamex decision threatens workers’ flexibility

A California freeway at rush hour, with traffic that includes commuters and rideshare drivers. (Photo: EGD, via Shutterstock)

My wife and I are union members working for a union employer in the Sacramento area. As full-time employees, we make a fair living, but not nearly enough for us to be able to live the life we want. In order to supplement our wages, we have chosen to work as independent contractors driving for app-based delivery and rideshare companies that service Sacramento.

This extra work as drivers has given us more financial freedom, allowing us to take vacations, buy a home, and afford a lifestyle that we want for ourselves.The key is that as independent contractors we choose when, where and how long we want to work to make extra income.

As an independent contractor I choose my flexibility, not the employer. I am the one who picks my schedule, the jobs I want to take and when I take a meal period.

The flexibility I have working as an independent contractor with rideshare companies and delivery platforms is unmatched. When I am not at my full-time job, I can decide that I would like to turn on one of the apps and make some extra income. None of these companies tell me I have to drive every day and they don’t tell me what time I have to clock in or out. When I am ready to stop working for the day, I simply turn off the apps and go home.

There has been some talk that it’s up to employers to offer flexibility and that is the difference between employees and independent contractors.

As an independent contractor I choose my flexibility, not the employer. I am the one who picks my schedule, the jobs I want to take, when I take a meal period, when I take a break, and when I don’t want to work anymore.

As an employee, my employer provides the schedule,  tells us how to do our jobs, and even when to take a rest or meal break. Even if I want to skip a break so I can leave earlier as an employee, legally my employer cannot allow me even that small flexibility.

Flexibility as a driver also allows me to lead a team of Sacramento-area rideshare drivers who meet frequently to discuss issues that affect the independent work we choose to do. One of the more recent topics we’ve been discussing, and worried about, is the recent California Supreme Court decision in Dynamex and the legislation recently introduced at the state Capitol that will hopefully address our concerns with the decision. What we want is legislation that protects us, but also allows us to remain independent contractors. We should be able to decide what kind of work is best for us, our families, and our lifestyles.

Flexibility is the key to working as an independent contractor. If that “perk” was to disappear because of the Dynamex decision – my income, my wife’s income, and our lifestyle would be threatened.

We aren’t alone – if California legislators do not take our concerns seriously and protect our decision to work independently, each of us surely knows someone whose life will be negatively affected, as nearly two million people in California are independent contractors.Your hairdresser, your child’s music teacher or soccer coach, your child’s daycare provider, and the ability to access rides and food more easily through app-services are threatened.

My decision to be an independent contractor should not be up for debate. I urge legislators to take all independent contractors’ concerns to heart and create legislation that allows me, and the other almost two million independent workers in California, the flexibility to make a better life for ourselves.

Editor’s Note: Elizabeth Rayray is a ride share/delivery app driver in the Sacramento area, earning money to supplement her income from a full-time union job.

 


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