Los Angeles Times

Treat workers as employees? Uber, Lyft and others are scrambling for a compromise

Faced with a looming threat to their way of doing business, Uber, Lyft and other major on-demand companies are trying something they've historically been reluctant to do: seeking compromise.

Anxious to preserve the freelance work arrangements upon which they've built their vast workforces, these companies have been pushing for a grand bargain that will satisfy labor groups' demands and stave off a California bill that could force them to treat workers in the state as employees - an outcome that would damage their hopes of long-term profitability.

In recent months, Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates and other companies have been in discussions with officials at two labor unions - including local chapters of the Teamsters and Service Employees International Union - over a possible legislative alternative to California Assembly Bill 5, now working its way through the state Senate. The proposal, details of which are still in flux, would allow the firms to continue to treat workers as independent contractors while providing them some benefits and protections typically reserved for employees. (The California Labor Federation, which represents most of the state's unions, remains committed to obtaining full employee status for on-demand workers.) At least two of the companies, Postmates and DoorDash, have also commissioned surveys to feel out how such a deal would play with Californians.

The longer the discussions

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