In an email to drivers that urged them to contact their local lawmakers, Uber said it would guarantee a minimum wage of $21 per hour while a driver had a passenger or was on the way to pick one up.
The companies said they would also push for so-called sectoral bargaining, which would allow drivers across the ride-hailing industry to band together in labor negotiations.
This style of bargaining is different from the typical model in the United States, in which a union negotiates with a single employer. Sectoral bargaining recently received a boost from Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who included it in his labor plan as part of his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Uber and Lyft said they would each give $30 million to support their ballot initiative. They said the initiative, which has not yet been drafted, would preserve those wage concessions.
“As a Plan B, we are reluctantly funding this initiative,” Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer, said in an interview. “This is not our first-choice option. We would much rather have an historic deal that is good for drivers, good for innovation, good for labor.”
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While officials at Lyft still believe they can reach a deal with state officials, they said they were willing to take the issue directly to voters.
“We are working on a solution that provides drivers with strong protections that include an earnings guarantee, a system of worker-directed portable benefits and first-of-its kind industrywide sectoral bargaining, without jeopardizing the flexibility drivers tell us they value so much,” said Adrian Durbin, a Lyft spokesman.
If Assembly Bill 5 becomes law, Uber will continue to litigate employment claims with its drivers, Mr. West said. “Just as we have done for the last decade, we will litigate these cases,” he said.
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