Thursday, March 26, 2020
As part of the bipartisan deal Senate leaders and the White House struck early Wednesday, unemployment benefits will be extended to groups including gig economy workers, per a statement from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Why it matters: This is an unprecedented expansion of benefits to gig economy workers, who have been classified as independent contractors instead of employees by ride-hailing and food delivery companies, among others. Flashback: On Monday, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi sent a letter to President Trump, asking government to include gig economy workers in the stimulus bill. On Friday, Khosrowshahi spoke with Schumer, and had reached out to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (though it's unclear if they spoke).
I understand payments can be up to $600 per week, based on average pay. Since I independently contract with Uber, Lyft, Doordash, Favor and Caviar (and soon Amazon Flex.) I often, as even the president of Uber acknowledged that most drivers do in his letter to Congress and the President, log into Uber, Lyft, Doordash and Favor all at the same time and simply accept the first desirable ride or delivery and log out of the others until the ride or delivery is complete (we are under NO obligation on any of the platforms to accept ANY ride or delivery request...I often deny low paying deliveries--until now I am accepting ALL because people are needing food.) The letter the president of Uber acknowledged that although we have been seeking benefits we in NO WAY want to be employees because it simply won't work for either us drivers or the companies we contract with.
Why wouldn't it work?
Well first of all, most of us have odd hours of availability...impossible to "schedule" hours. But second of all, from both the companies and us, it is impossible to schedule. The demand for rides, food and groceries changes month to month, day to day, hour to hour, and sometimes minute to minute.
Examples... A college fraternity decide to throw a big party. Suddenly there is a huge need for rides and food and booze (Favor and Doordash deliver liquor and beer.) When this happens, Uber and Doordash and Favor will jack the prices up because suddenly there aren't enough drivers...it is called a surge and it is what we LIVE for as drivers. Suddenly short five minute rides are worth $20 or even more for about an hour or so. Other times what is usually a busy time is dead. There is NO way a company could have employees to handle that. And we wouldn't want to be scheduled when there's no rides. PLUS if we were employees we couldn't work for several companies AT THE SAME TIME.
Finally the president of Uber ALSO petitioned the government to make NEW laws allowing gig economy contractors to get FULL BENEFITS INCLUDING HEALTH INSURANCE AND RETIREMENT as if they were employees. This would solve everything.
So praise to Uber who used to be a very unethically run company. The new CEO who replaced the piece of schitt one a couple of years ago, has done amazing things. Including offering us drivers free pay if we get quarantined (whatever our average week is will be the pay.)
And it is an example of how free enterprise CAN do good things and CAN cooperate with government programs.
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