Some believe that our economy is rebounding but that is not the case in our community. In fact, our businesses are struggling, and it can be felt by families who join me for worship each Sunday.
In my congregation, there are families who are fighting to make ends meet. Faced with financial instability, they often can’t pay their everyday basic needs with just one job. With their kitchen tables serving as classroom desks for Zoom school for months on end, they have needed flexibility to earn income when it works in between school starting and stopping and putting dinner on the table during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And that is why I supported Proposition 22 during the November 2020 election and continue to support it. Prop 22 protects the flexibility people need to be able to earn income to pay bills when it works out best for them. It allows people who want to make money to drive on an app-based network to deliver food or transport people. They can do all of this while juggling their children’s school schedule and other family demands.
Since Proposition 22 passed by 60% of California voters, I know numerous people who were able to earn more, while working flexibly and enjoying unprecedented benefits like a healthcare stipend.
With many in our community having difficulties, I recently spoke to a congregant who delivers meals on an app-based platform. He does this full-time because he can earn enough money to cover his living expenses and needs the flexibility because his wife also works. While his wife is at work, he stays home with their children to make sure the Zoom boxes aren’t replaced with video games and his kids are getting the education they deserve. When she gets home, he then can work on his own time for as long as he needs to. Without this flexibility, bills would go unpaid and their basic needs from buying groceries would go unmet.
Following a recent Sunday service after worship, I sat with a single parent who was telling me about how valuable the few extra hours driving for a food delivery platform are to her future. She works those extra hours around her work and family schedule, so she can save for her children’s college education.
Because of these very people who I care about, I am concerned about the recent decision by one judge who ruled that Prop 22 is unconstitutional. How can one judge overrule 10 million California voters and directly threaten so many who rely on the flexibility to earn additional income when they need it? That is just wrong.
This is not only a flexible way to earn income whenever someone needs it, it also provides a low barrier to earn money. Sometimes people need an opportunity to make a living and app-based driving provides that chance. And I have seen it, as people work and earn money, their lives begin to change. They are able to care for their families and are less stressed as they can put food on their dinner table and pay the electricity bill.
The statistics of who is driving on an app-based platform is consistent with the people I know in the community who rely on it for income. They represent all of us. One in three is a parent with children under 18, more than half are women, and as many as nine percent have a disability that keeps them from full participation in the workforce.
I am disappointed at the court’s decision to rule against Prop 22. I pray that his decision is overturned so that the flexibility and independence so many in our community rely on to earn income in order to make ends meet and survive continues to be protected.
Rev. K.W. Tulloss, President of Baptist Ministers Conference Southern California, and Co-Founder of Neighborhood Forward