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Photo: Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A California judge on Friday ruled that a 2020 ballot measure exempting gig companies from providing benefits for its workers is unconstitutional, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Why it matters: California voters approved the measure last November, ensuring gig companies aren't required to make their drivers employees. The victory gave the industry a playbook for facing labor movements nationwide.

Flashback: Gig companies spent over $200 million backing Proposition 22 to enshrine their workers as contractors in exchange for some limited benefits, including funding that can be used for health insurance.

  • They were fighting a new state law that changed rules on worker classification.
  • Companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash are now exempt from providing health care subsidies and wage floors for hundreds of thousands of drivers.

What they're saying: Proposition 22 "limits the power of a future Legislature to define app-based drivers as workers subject to workers’ compensation law," wrote Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch wrote.

  • That means the entire measure is unenforceable, Roesch said.

Gig Workers Rising lauded the decision. Proposition 22 "has always been an illegal corporate power grab that not only stole the wages, benefits and rights owed to gig workers but also ended the regulating power of our elected officials, allowing a handful of rogue corporations to continue to act above the law," Shona Clarkson, lead organizer for the advocacy group, said in a statement.

  • "This fight is not over until all gig workers receive the living wages, benefits and voice on the job they have earned."

The other side: "We believe the judge made a serious error by ignoring a century’s worth of case law requiring the courts to guard the voters’ right of initiative," Geoff Vetter, a spokesperson for the Protect App-Based Drivers & Services Coalition, said in a statement.

  • "This outrageous decision is an affront to the overwhelming majority of California voters who passed Prop. 22," Vetter added, noting they plan to file an immediate appeal.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva: Given how dependent the companies’ business models are on Proposition 22 — and how much money they spent on the ballot measure — they’ll surely fight this ruling as long as they can.

The big picture: Uber and Lyft, among others, rolled out the first of the new benefits they'd promised last December.

Go deeper: Deep dive on the gig economy

Go deeper

Austin police staffing measure draws national attention

Dueling campaign signs outside a voting precinct in South Austin. Photo: Asher Price/Axios

The big kahuna on the ballot is Proposition A, which would put more cops on the street — at a cost.

Why it matters: If approved by voters, the city would be required to have at least two officers for every 1,000 people — it’s now at about 1.7.

  • City finance officials say the measure could cost as much as $600 million over five years.
Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' billionaires tax explained

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There is now legislative language behind the push to tax American billionaires on unrealized capital gains, as Sen. Ron Wyden last night released his 107-page plan.

Why it matters: This would be a sea change in U.S. tax policy, which has only applied to realized gains (otherwise known as income).

COP26 head warns Glasgow summit will be "harder than Paris"

Alok Sharma, U.K. COP26 president, in Milan on Sept. 30, 2021. Photo: Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

U.K. COP26 President Alok Sharma told reporters Tuesday that the upcoming talks in Glasgow, widely viewed as the last chance to avoid some of the worst consequences of global warming, will be extremely difficult.

Driving the news: Sharma sought to temper expectations and note that the agenda features some of the toughest items that negotiators have punted on at previous summits.