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WHO’S REALLY PAYING FOR THAT $10 UBER RIDE? SURPRISE: IT’S YOUR DRIVER

by Sunita Sohrabji | Oct 6, 2020 | COVID-19
10/6/2020



From left to right: Dr. Veena Dubal, Professor of Law at the U.C. Hastings School of Law. Dr. Dubal; Dr. Alexandrea Ravenelle, Professor in Sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Roberto Moreno, driver for Uber and Lyft

By SUNITA SOHRABJI/EMS Contributor

Gig economy workers, who now comprise more than one-third of the U.S. labor force, lost an estimated 75 percent of their income in the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gig economy workers comprise app-based drivers for ride-share and food delivery services, such as Uber, Lyft, Doordash, Instacart, and Postmates. They can also work through online platforms, such as TaskRabbit, Fiverr, and AirBnB. House-cleaners, gardeners, temp workers, and independent contractors are also categorized as gig workers. As the pandemic hit, demand for such services exponentially dropped, leaving workers with no money and no financial safety nets such as unemployment or savings.

This emerging labor force is overwhelmingly made up of people of color and newer immigrants, who are largely underpaid, often below minimum wage. The Bureau of Labor Statistics noted in 2017 that 55 million people worked in the gig economy; that number is expected to grow to 43 percent of the U.S. labor pool.

Veena Dubal, a professor of law at the University of California Hastings School of Law, characterized app-based driving as “one of the most dangerous jobs in America,” at an Oct. 2 briefing organized by Ethnic Media Services. She noted that drivers are grossly underpaid, have no health insurance, no sick or paid family leave, and no unemployment insurance.

Drivers work more than 40 hours a week, and net about $10.17 an hour, according to data from the Economic Policy Institute.

“This is a highly exploitative model that really lowers labor costs for companies and and cuts the ability of workers to make a living,” said Dubal.

“Right now, quite frankly, is not a good time to be a gig worker,” said Alexandrea Ravenelle, author of “Hustle and Gig,” at the briefing.

“Gig workers are in jobs that carry a high risk of exposure to COVID because they are often working in close proximity with strangers, whether they are driving strangers in their personal cars or being asked to go into a stranger’s private home to do organizing or cleaning work,” said Ravenelle, a professor in Sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who is currently studying the impact of COVID-19 on gig workers in New York.

Many gig workers who were eligible for unemployment chose not to take the benefit, fearing for their immigration status, said Ravenelle. Moreover, as unemployment levels hit historic highs during the initial onslaught of the pandemic, many former employees turned to the gig economy to make rent and feed their families as unemployment benefits were delayed. This created more competition for existing gig workers, she said.

The sociologist said that gig workers are increasingly vulnerable to scammers amid the pandemic, who use bait-and-switch techniques to lure people in, sometimes into sex work. “So it’s very much a scary Wild West out there for workers who are unemployed or underemployed during this pandemic,” said Ravenelle.

She also predicted that the U.S. labor force would increasingly move towards the gig model, leaving workers without the health and financial protections of past generations.

California voters will get a chance to weigh in on the gig economy this November, with Proposition 22, a ballot measure which seeks to keep app-based drivers classified as independent contractors, and not employees.

Last year, the California state Legislature passed AB5, a measure reclassifying almost all gig economy workers as employees who were eligible for at least minimum wage and health benefits. Last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 2257 which stipulated that some independent contractors, including musicians and journalists, were exempt from AB5.

Uber and Lyft fought back against AB5, continuing to classify their drivers as independent contractors, in violation of the new law.

In August, California Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman ruled against the companies, citing them in violation of AB 5. He also ruled that drivers in California were owed billions of dollars in back wages, because they had been making less than minimum wage and were often losing money during the pandemic while demand was so low.

Uber, Lyft, Doordash, Instacart, and Postmates have collectively spent more than $184 million on the Yes on 22 campaign, the most expensive ballot campaign in the state’s history. Almost 900,000 app-based drivers work California’s roads.

“Prop. 22 is the most dangerous labor law that I’ve seen in in my lifetime, said Dubal of UC Hastings, who is an ardent opponent of the ballot initiative. App-based driving companies are currently unregulated, and huge lobbying efforts have allowed them to be free of enforcement of labor laws, she said.

Drivers only get paid for time in which a customer is in their care; they do not get paid for time driving to the pick-up point, nor for time waiting for a ride.

Prop. 22 is also dangerous for consumers, said Dubal, since it limits the liability of companies. If a passenger gets into an accident while in a Lyft or Uber car, the company is not liable for medical expenses and the like. The liability falls to the driver, from whom it may be impossible to extract damages, she said, adding that this dis-incentivizes companies from making sure their drivers are safe to drive when they get on the road, creating hazardous environments for both drivers and passengers.

If the measure passes, Dubal predicted other companies would use the model as a means to exploit labor.

“We are considered free human capital,” stated Roberto Moreno, who has been driving for both Uber and Lyft since 2017. Drivers spend 60 to 80 hours a week on the roads, but 15 to 20 hours of that time is unpaid as they wait for rides. Moreover, the company will charge a customer, for example, a $55 fare, but pay the driver his cut of only a $40 fare, he alleged.

Drivers also often have to drive long distances to pick up a small fare: they are not allowed to reject rides and don’t know the length of the ride until the passenger is in the car. Drivers are also not allowed to reject riders with low ratings, which may put them in hazardous situations with unruly passengers.

“Right now we’re talking about drivers. But after November, if Prop. 22 passes, I believe we’re going to be talking about teachers, nurses, welders, and grocers. All of those people are going to be in the same boat,” predicted Moreno.


相关讯息

California Secures Federal Assistance to Support Response to Silverado Fire in Orange County 
 

族裔媒体服务社(EMS)网上会议:新冠疫情期间获取医疗保健的危机 
The Crisis of Accessing Healthcare During Covid

不全是谎言的讯息是最有问题的「假新闻」 
 

To help non-filers, IRS sets Nov. 10 as ‘National EIP Registration Day;’ Register at IRS.gov for Economic Impact Payment 
 

Governor Newsom Names Scientific Safety Review Workgroup to Advise State on COVID-19 Vaccines 
 

Governor Newsom Announces CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley’s Retirement, Names Amanda Ray New Commissioner 
 

族裔媒体服务社(EMS)网上会议:我们如何能发现威胁到美国选举不实的讯息? 
会议表明,更胜于以往,有意的媒体操纵是当前媒体及政治运行的主题。危险份子制造混乱来压制选民投票的热忱,以图改变选举的结果。我们的社区遭到特定攻击,媒体人应该知道如何能看到问题及应对。

旧金山复选排名投票的影响尚无定论 
 

科技大企业因疫情获利数十亿 他们有缩小学生数码鸿沟的责任 
 

Governor Newsom’s Policing Advisors Announce Recommendations to Improve Police Response to Protests and Demonstrations 
 

族裔媒体服务社(EMS)网上会议:仇恨的蔓延 – 在美国的另一种病毒 

仇恨犯罪是否和病毒一样会传染,如你目睹这样的犯罪或是受害者,你会如何应对?




WHO’S REALLY PAYING FOR THAT $10 UBER RIDE? SURPRISE: IT’S YOUR DRIVER 
 

IRS extends Economic Impact Payment deadline to Nov. 21 to help non-filers 
 

S提案保护圣他克拉拉县水源与供水 
 

族裔媒体服务社(EMS)网上会议:生存在零工经济中 - 谁来支付那笔10美元的Uber乘车费? 
 

本目录中最多阅览的文章

第二次宗教改革的呼声 
新兴教会的运动是教会的第二次宗教改革, 它将彻底改写教会历史, 并开创全新的教会时代.

叛逆 (1) 


洗衣妇成为最富足的人 (1) 
人们尊敬她,是因为她的奉献仅仅是出于对下一代的爱心,她只想让她辛苦积蓄下来的钱派上用场。正是由于这个乐天知命的态度和简朴无华的智能感动了世人。

你手若有行善的力量,不可推辞,就当向那应得的人施行 - 箴言, 三章二十七节


朱易 :非洲要接福音大使命的最后一棒 

天主教非洲教区的发展朝气蓬勃, 让不少非洲区主教相信, 耶稣基督再来前的福音最后一波, 将会在非洲出现. 他们认为, 福音复兴在欧洲出现过, 在美洲出现过, 在亚洲也出现过, 如今复兴该临到非洲大地了.


朱易 : 教会崇拜多媒体化:有效策略还是偶像崇拜 
他们甚至认为,传统的讲道,就是用文字描述图象来传达信息,而多媒体则是用图象说明文字来传达信息。因此,文字是图象的抽象化,而图象则是文字的具体化。因此多媒体并不是改革宗传统的消失,而是将多元对话引进到传统中。


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