Uber, Lyft and allies break spending records on gig worker initiative. Here's how much

©The Sacramento Bee

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A fight over the future of California gig drivers has drawn nearly $220 million in political spending, making it the most expensive initiative in the history of the state.

The latest campaign finance reports filed Thursday show that the Yes on Proposition 22 campaign has received nearly $200 million, mostly from five tech companies: Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates and Instacart.

Uber has been the biggest contributor to the campaign, which aims to largely exempt app-based gig economy drivers from a state law that requires companies to provide more employment benefits to their workers. The company spent more than $57 million for the initiative.

Lyft spent nearly $49 million. Instacart put in nearly $32 million, followed by Postmates which contributed more than $13 million.

Those companies have said the current state law raises the cost of doing business for them. They have also said without Proposition 22, they will have to cut thousands of drivers and significantly raise the costs of their service, although the initiative’s opponents dispute those claims.

Nearly $10 million of the contributions didn’t come in cash. Uber, for instance, reported contributing $116,000 of its employees’ time for the campaign in October. A number of companies reported providing the campaign with “consumer lists” and “driver lists,” to be used in sending messages supporting Proposition 22 to apps’ drivers and users.

The campaign has spent $183 million as of Oct. 17.

Between Sept. 20 and Oct. 17, the campaign spent more than $67 million, mostly on television and digital ads, according to the reports. The campaign also put out about $150,000 worth of print ads in that period, some at targeting Black newspapers.

On the No on Proposition 22 side, which aims to have drivers be employees and receive full benefits such as paid sick leave, the campaign has raised just over $19 million according to the reports.

Most of the money came from labor unions, including more than $5 million from various chapters of SEIU, nearly $4 million from UFCW and $2 million from Teamsters.

The campaign has spent $12.7 million as of Oct. 17, including $8 million on television ads and more than $2 million on digital ads.

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©2020 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)