California passes bill for wage, benefit protections for gig workers

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Senate has passed a bill that would give new wage and benefit protections to workers at so-called gig economy companies like Uber and Lyft.

The 29-11 vote late Tuesday sends the bill back to the state Assembly for final approval over strident Republican opposition. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has said he supports it.

The proposal has drawn staunch opposition from on-demand delivery and ridesharing companies while winning support from many of the Democratic presidential contenders.

It puts into law a California Supreme Court decision making it harder for companies to classify workers as independent contractors. The bill would make those companies classify their workers as employees instead.

“Today, our state’s political leadership missed an important opportunity to support the overwhelming majority of rideshare drivers who want a thoughtful solution that balances flexibility with an earnings standard and benefits,” Adrian Durbin, a Lyft spokesperson, told NBC News on Tuesday night. “The fact that there were more than 50 industries carved out of AB5 is very telling. We are fully prepared to take this issue to the voters of California to preserve the freedom and access drivers and riders want and need.”

While its impact on gig economy companies has drawn most of the attention, it would affect a wide array of industries.