By Len Ramirez

SAN JOSE (KPIX) — Cab drivers in the South Bay are fighting AB-5, the new California law designed to help gig workers by reclassifying them from contractors to company employees.

The cabbies are afraid they’ll get swept up in the new law, overturning the way cab companies have operated for decades.

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“It’s going to hurt my income, hurt my company, hurt the entire taxi business,” said Karan Deep, a driver affiliated with Yellow-Checker in San Jose.

Deep said he’s happy to be a fully independent operator with his own business license and background checks.
He’s allowed to take on work when he wants it, or not.

“Drivers are happy. They have their own flexibility, they have their own freedom, they make their own schedules,” Deep said.

Yellow-Checker’s president and General Manager says it’s standard practice.

“It’s nothing new to us. Taxi drivers have owned and operated their own vehicles for 40 to 45 years,” said Larry Silva.

AB 5 was designed to help drivers with Uber, Lyft and DoorDash gain benefits such as health insurance and overtime pay by making them company employees.

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Cab drivers say although they pay for their own cars, maintenance and health insurance, they get to keep most of their profits since they only pay the company a small dispatch fee.

Deep is afraid he could lose his own regular customers and be forced to work during slow times when he normally takes breaks under the new law.

“What am I going to do between 10 and 3?” he asked.

“The taxi cab industry has been hit from all sides,” Mr. Silva said.

Cab companies are down, but surviving on an increase in business from contract work for medical patients.

Now they’re gearing up for a fight in Sacramento to try and get an exemption to AB 5.

But Deep is studying in his downtime for a degree in cyber security, just in case.

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“They’re forcing us to go out of business and find something else,” Mr. Deep said.