Letters to the Editor: Gavin Newsom stabbed workers in the back by being silent on Prop. 22

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INGLEWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 21: Governor Gavin Newsom, shown with Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), left, and Rev. Kenneth Ulmer, addresses the media while visiting a mobile COVID-19 vaccination site to discuss the state's efforts to vaccinate hard-to-reach and disproportionately impacted communities at Faithful Central Bible Church on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021 in Inglewood, CA. State and local agencies vaccinated 250 people from the community on Sunday. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood on Feb. 21. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Gov. Gavin Newsom's Future of Work Commission called for a new "social compact" for workers — an aspiration that took a knife in the back from Newsom's silence on Proposition 22 last November.

On the report's goals for improving workers' wages, benefits and rights, increasing racial equity and unionization, Proposition 22 did the opposite. It institutionalized rideshare drivers' status as poverty-level, informal workers.

Under Proposition 22, drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft only qualify for 120% of minimum wage during the time they are picking up and driving a passenger in their car, not an easy feat. The companies do not have to contribute to Social Security, Medicare or unemployment insurance, and few drivers qualify for the paltry healthcare allowance.

As independent contractors, drivers can't form unions, and with two-thirds of Lyft drivers being people of color and one-third from immigrant families, racial inequality is widened.

Defeating Prop. 22 needed a champion in the bully pulpit to oppose the other side's $200-million advertising blitz. When workers have friends like Newsom, who needs enemies?

Mark Masaoka, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Did it really take a 21-member commission 18 months to figure out that wages in the state are too low, there's a shortage of quality jobs, and workers of color are more likely to live in poverty? Anyone who's been living in California of late could have said the same thing in a short phone call.

The only surprise here is the commission's call to address these problems by 2030. With a Democratic governor and Democratic supermajorities in both houses of the state Legislature, it would seem that many of these issues could be addressed with bold and sweeping legislative actions much sooner.

The real obstacle isn't the intractability of these problems, but rather the lack of will among our elected officials. Until we get money and special interests out of our state politics, this so-called moon shot is sadly doomed to fail.

Stephen Bulka, Los Angeles

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.