- A group of Uber and Lyft drivers filed a lawsuit Tuesday against California’s controversial Prop 22, a ballot measure that was approved by nearly 59% of state voters in the 2020 election.
- While Prop 22 does promise drivers wage guarantees and health insurance stipends, it also eliminated some protections as well as benefits like sick pay and workers’ compensation.
- In their lawsuit, the drivers argue that Prop 22 “illegally” prevents them from being able to access the state’s workers’ compensation program.
What’s in the Lawsuit?
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, a group of Uber and Lyft drivers asked California’s Supreme Court to overturn the state’s controversial Prop 22 ballot measure.
The drivers behind the lawsuit, along with Service Employees International Union, allege that Prop 22 “illegally” bars them from being able to participate in the state’s workers’ compensation program.
Additionally, they argue that the measure violates California’s constitution by “stripping” the state legislature of its ability to protect workers who unionize.
“Every day, rideshare drivers like me struggle to make ends meet because companies like Uber and Lyft prioritize corporate profits over our wellbeing,” Plaintiff Saori Okawa said in a statement.
Conversely, Uber driver and Prop 22 activist Jim Pyatt denounced the lawsuit, saying,“Voters across the political spectrum spoke loud and clear, passing Prop 22 in a landslide. Meritless lawsuits that seek to undermine the clear democratic will of the people do not stand up to scrutiny in the courts.”
California ballot measures have been occasionally repealed in the past; however, most of the time, they’ve only been repealed following subsequent ballot measures. If this lawsuit fails, such an initiative would likely be the last option for overturning Prop 22.
What is Prop 22?
Prop 22, which was approved by 59% of state voters in the 2020 Election, exempts app-based transportation and delivery companies from having to classify their drivers as employees. Rather, those drivers are listed as “independent contractors,” also known as gig workers.
Notably, Prop 22 was supported by major industry players like DoorDash, Uber, Lyft, and Instacart, which launched a massive $200 million lobbying and advertising campaign.
While those companies did promise wage guarantees and health insurance stipends for drivers, Prop 22 also eliminated a number of protections and benefits drivers would have seen under an “employee” status, including sick pay and workers’ compensation.
Because of that, many opponents have argued that the measure incentivizes companies to lay off their employees in favor of cheaper labor options.
Last week, it was reported that grocery stores like Albertsons, Vons, and Pavilions began laying off their delivery workers in favor of switching to ”third-party logistics providers.” According to Albertson’s, unionized delivery workers were not included in the layoffs.
In recent coverage from KPBS, one San Diego Vons delivery worker detailed a situation in which he and delivery workers were called into a meeting with management.
“I thought they were going to give us a bonus or a raise or something like that,” he said.
Ultimately, that employee was told he would be losing his job in late February, even though he had been with the company for two-and-a-half years.
“I didn’t want to tell them,” the employee said of his parents, one of whom is disabled. “I’m the breadwinner for the family.”
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (The Washington Post) (CNN)
New Footage Shows YouTuber David Dobrik’s Role in Jeff Wittek’s Life-Threatening Accident
- The latest episode of YouTuber Jeff Wittek’s docuseries “Don’t Try This At Home” revealed that he sustained a serious facial injury last year while filming a dangerous stunt on an excavator that was operated by fellow creator David Dobrik.
- Dobrik said he wanted to make major stunt videos with his Vlog Squad as a return to YouTube amid the pandemic.
- For one stunt, Vlog Squad members hung onto a rope that was attached to an excavator in a lake while Dobrik swung them around. When Wittek was on the rope, he swung so fast that he crashed into the excavator and fell into the water face-down.
- Dobrik is now facing backlash online from people who are shocked that he endangered his friends’ lives for YouTube content.
Footage Show Dangerous Stunt Gone Wrong
Footage from the second episode of YouTuber Jeff Wittek’s series “Don’t Try This At Home” shows that David Dobrik was involved in the accident that left Witteck with serious face injuries last year.
Wittek had previously spoken about his injuries but never revealed the details behind what caused them. His latest episode, titled “How I Broke My Face,” was posted Wednesday night and answered many long-asked questions about the incident.
The video starts with Wittek and other Vlog Squad members discussing how the coronavirus pandemic shut the world down and paused the group’s ability to make videos together. Dobrik, one of the most popular creators on YouTube, said he wanted to make major stunt videos as their return to the platform.
For one of these stunts, Dobrik put an excavator in a lake that he said was roughly one foot deep. Dobrik then operated the machine as Vlog Squad members wakeboarded and surfed on the lake while attached to it, but they wanted to take things to the next level.
“I’m sitting there watching Todd wakesurf for hours and great, but we’re here trying to make a funny video,” Wittek explained. “If you want wakeboarding videos, go to Youtube and type ‘cool guy wake surfing’ and I’m sure you’ll see a ton of them.”
Members of the group then proceeded to hold onto a rope that was attached to the excavator while Dobrik operated it and swung them around the lake. Vlog Squadder Corinna Kopff was the first to give it a try but eventually asked to be taken down because it felt dangerous.
“You take things too far,” she said to Dobrik as she was hopping off the rope.
Wittek then opted to give it a try. He had just spent time skydiving with members of the Vlog Squad for a separate part of Dobrik’s return video, so he figured he could handle this seemingly easier stunt.
“So I grabbed the rope and I tried to make a goddamn funny video for people,” Wittek said. “But this is where I made a mistake. I forgot the biggest fucking idiot I knew was driving it.”
The footage then shows Wittek swinging incredibly fast into the excavator and then cuts to black. The next shot shows him falling face-down into the lake.
“Time literally slows down,” Dobrik said while describing the moment.
“The whole side of his face is just open,” Vlog Squadder Todd Smith added.
Dobrik Faces Backlash for “Reckless” Behavior
Dobrik trended on Twitter Thursday morning as people accused him of endangering Wittek’s life in the name of making YouTube content.
“David Dobrik needs to be stopped. He’s always been irresponsible at his friends expense for YOUTUBE videos,” one person wrote. “He COULD have been charged with manslaughter had Jeff been inches closer to the excavator.”
The comments on the video are filled with similar outrage.
“You’re lucky to be alive,” one YouTube user wrote. “I still can’t believe what I saw. It’s so reckless what he did to you and the extreme lengths and measures that people do at other people’s expenses just to get Youtube video views is insane.”
“It’s amazing David Dobrik hasn’t killed someone for a Youtube video yet,” another person added.
Major creators like Trisha Paytas, who has long been vocal about her issues with Dobrik and the Vlog Squad, also expressed her disgust at the video.
“The fact that he has Natalie THERE + three assistants , Meghan the pr fairy, and dumbass jack manager guy and not one person could get a stunt coordinator / medic for this is another level of negligence,” she said.
Dobrik’s Month of Scandals
So far, Dobrik has not responded to the wave of outrage. He has been facing intense criticism for the last month over his involvement with a separate issue with the Vlog Squad. Former member Dom Zegalitis, also known as Durte Dom, was accused in March of raping a woman who was too drunk to consent in 2018.
The alleged assault happened when the woman was with Dobrik’s Vlog Squad to film a video. The woman, who was under 21 at the time, said members of the group supplied her and her friends with alcohol.
Zeglaitis recently denied the rape allegation and said “as far as I am concerned, everything that occurred during the night in question was completely consensual.”
Dobrik released two videos addressing the incident, claiming he no longer associates with Zeglaitis and wants to take accountability for what happened in the Vlog Squad under his watch. He said he would be taking time away from the Internet to reevaluate the way he creates content.
Dobrik has lost major brand deals as a result of this controversy. He also had to step away from the social media app he founded, Dispo, following the accusation.
Mark Rober Faces Backlash Over NEXT For Autism Fundraiser
- YouTuber Mark Rober is facing backlash for hosting a star-studded fundraiser with Jimmy Kimmel for the charity NEXT for Autism.
- Rober announced the fundraiser in a video on Friday where he shared that his son is on the autism spectrum.
- Many online, including several people in the autistic community, said NEXT supports finding treatments and cures for autism, something the community does not believe in. Some also were frustrated that the group supports the controversial practice of Applied Behavioral Analysis, a therapy that targets and changes certain social skills..
- Following the criticism, NEXT released a statement saying it does not support finding a cure for autism and that while it does deal with ABA, the practice has changed over the years and it does not support dangerous variations.
Mark Rober’s Fundraiser Faces Backlash
YouTuber Mark Rober is facing backlash for an upcoming livestream fundraiser he is hosting with talk show host Jimmy Kimmel to support NEXT for Autism.
The livestream, called Color the Spectrum, will be held on April 30 and will feature major television, film, and internet celebrities including MrBeast, Jack Black, Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, Andy Samberg, Paul Rudd, Mark Hamill, Sarah Silverman, Terry Crews, Rhett & Link, and John Oliver. Rober announced the event in a video on Friday titled “The Truth About My Son” where he revealed that his son is autistic. According to Rober’s donation tab on YouTube, the initiative has already brought in over $850,000 for NEXT for Autism.
While some people have applauded his efforts, others are slamming Rober, Kimmel, and the other stars participating in the event for aiding the organization. Many people in the autistic community believe that NEXT for Autism’s work does not help autistic people; rather, they claim it actually harms them.
On Twitter, many said the organization promotes and supports finding a “cure” for autism, something that many in the community do not believe in. NEXT is tied to a variety of groups, including Autism Speaks and The Center for Autism and the Developing Brain, which have been criticized for similar reasons.
While Autism Speaks has removed “cures” from its mission statement, the latter still says it is devoted to finding “treatments.” Many circulated a screenshot of a mission statement from CADB where prevention efforts were listed as a focus, as well; however, that no longer appears on its website.
Others were critical of NEXT’s support for a practice called Applied Behavioral Analysis, which is a therapy that targets and changes certain social skills. Some have described this as a “conversion therapy” for autistic people.
Additionally, people took issue with the fact that NEXT does not have a lot of autisic people on its board or working in leadership positions for the group. Some also disagreed with the way Rober painted autism in his video, feeling that he suggested autistic people’s main contributions to the world were limited to their positivity.
Petition Calls for Event to Be Canceled
A petition calling for the event to be canceled currently has over 10,000 signatures. It compared some of NEXT’s practices to eugenics and said the group supports “other extremely harmful ideologies that all come down to the sole purpose of ending the existence of autistic people.”
The petition suggested that people who want to donate to the autistic community should find other organizations like the Autism Self Advocacy Network.
A Twitter user named Dave Shaw wrote an open letter to those involved in the fundraiser asking them to not support NEXT.
“As an austistic adult, I can assure you that like any other marginalised community we want and need acceptance and to be included in society,” he wrote. “The organization behind the upcoming livestream, Next For Autism, does not provide nor aim for this.”
He backed many of the other issues people have had with NEXT, calling ABA “traumatic” and a from of “child abuse.” He also stood against efforts to cure autism.
“Autism is not a disease or a defect to be cured. It is simply a form of diversity,” he wrote.
His letter caught the attention of YouTubers Rhett & Link, who were scheduled to appear in the livestream.
“Thank you for bringing this to our attention,” they wrote back. “We are no longer participating in the event.”
NEXT For Autism Responds
Following the backlash, NEXT released a statement on Monday defending its practices and denying allegations that it is funding efforts to cure autism.
“There have been some outrageous misinformation circulating about Next for Autism, its mission, methods, and partners,” that statement said.
“Our mission has never been the cure or prevention of autism, in fact, NEXT was created to fill a void,” it continued, adding that when it was founded, most groups aiding the autistic community were working to fund biomedical research, while NEXT was focused on school services.
The statement then addressed NEXT’s partnership with Autism Speaks and said it only works with the group to aid its mission of expanding access to programs and services.
“Anyone using these partnerships to draw a line from NEXT to eugenics or anything related to the prevention and cure of autism is doing an enormous disservice to the people we serve by spreading this gross untruth.”
Regarding ABA, NEXT said the methodology has changed over the years and bears no resemblance to the conversion therapy-like treatments people are claiming the group supports.
NEXT also said it is committed to including more Autistic board members in the future.
For his part, Rober wrote that proceeds from Color the Spectrum will go directly towards services to helping autistic people after they graduate towards high school, a time period where programs are particularly lacking. His post did not directly address the backlash, but clarified where money raised will go.
Durte Dom Responds to Rape Allegation
- Former Vlog Squad member Dom Zeglaitis, AKA Durte Dom, responded to allegations that he raped a girl in 2018 who was too drunk to consent to sexual activity.
- He wrote on his Instagram story that he wants to “sincerely apologize directly to the women involved in this incident,” but as far as he is concerned, everything that happened “was completely consensual.”
- He added that the statements being made about him “unfairly” defame his character and that he is donating “thousands of dollars” to women’s charities.
Durte Dom Responds
Former Vlog Squad member Dom Zeglaitis, AKA Durte Dom, responded to allegations that he raped a woman who was too drunk to consent to sexual activity in 2018 and claimed that in his eyes, everything was “completely consensual.”
The accusation against Zeglaitis came to light in March after Insider reported that it had spoken to the victim who had appeared in a Vlog Squad video with her friends the night she was allegedly raped. She also claimed that members of the group supplied her and her friends with alcohol, as they were under 21 at the time.
Zeglaitis did not give a comment to Insider, and in the month following the report, he went dormant on social media. Last week, he returned to TikTok, posting content as-usual despite pressure in the comments section to speak about the allegation.
Over the weekend, he issued a response on his Instagram story. His account is currently set to private, so only people who follow Zeglaitis could see the post.
“I want to sincerely apologize directly to the women involved in this incident,” he wrote. “I definitely empathize with the pain that everyone has suffered in this matter.”
“With that being said, as far as I am concerned, everything that occurred during the night in question was completely consensual,” he continued. “I believe the statements that have come out against me are entirely misleading and shed an incorrect light on my involvement.”
“My character is being unfairly attacked and the statements that exist in the public eye are unfairly defaming and assaulting my character and reputation.”
Zegliatis claimed that since the Insider report came out, he has donated “thousands of dollars” to womens’ rights charities to show his “support for the unjustified and unnecessary struggles that women endure in our society on a daily basis.”
“It is time for all of us to demonstrate more respect for one another in every facet of life,” he added.
Responses to Statement
His response was not received well by numerous people on social media, who were frustrated that he did not take responsibility for his alleged actions. Many were also upset that the post was primarily about himself and did not reflect on the situation, consent, or any of his past behavior.
“Not consensual if the girl is blacked out,” YouTuber Trisha Paytas wrote.
The allegation against Zeglaitis, as well as other claims about a general culture of toxicity within the Vlog Squad, have taken the creator world by storm. The group’s frontman and one of YouTube’s biggest stars, David Dobrik, has issued multiple apologies about the incident.
Dobrik has also lost major brand deals and stepped away from Dispo, a social media app he co-founded. He is currently taking a break from social media to rethink the way the production of his content is structured. He also said he has distanced himself from Zegalitis.