March: Drivers Protest For Wages During COVID-19 crisis
San Francisco had a shelter in place order to all residents due to the rising fears of the COVID-19 pandemic but rideshare drivers defied that order to protest in front of of Uber’s headquarters, demanding the company provide them with more benefits as they continue to work through the coronavirus pandemic.
The drivers are there again to fight for the enforcement of a landmark AB5 bill which seeks to convert all of Uber's drivers into employees in california. The law had went effect in January and reclassifies drivers but Uber has refused to comply and contest this in court.
Over the last 5 years Uber and Lyft have spent millions resisting this law in some or the other way and have admantly stuck to the same narrative that their Drivers are not employees but independent from the company and hence should be considered employees or be given sick leave, benefits or insurance.
Rashed Alsenea is a Driver who worked for Uber for more than 6 years was at the protest wearing a mask and gloves. He has completed over 17,000 trips and has transitioned to food delivery from Uber because there is less contact with riders and more demand for food delivery with pandemic fears rising. He said he lives in fear of infecting his family but cannot afford to stop working.
“We are workers, we are entitled to our rights and safety,” he said. “We cannot work from home, our car is where we work.”
Some 81% of Uber and Lyft drivers in the US said they have seen a decrease in demand since coronavirus measures began to be enforced and 80% say earnings are down in the past week, according to a survey from The Ride Share Guy.
Dominique Smith, another driver at the protest has driven for Lyft since 2017. He is now considering leaving the job completely because the pandemic has dwindled his wages significantly.
“I worked 10 hours yesterday and made $40,” he said. “We are getting starvation wages while getting food to people who need it.”
Uber and Lyft claim their drivers are contractors who work part time, but 65% of respondents to the Ride Share Guy survey said they have no other way to earn money than Uber or Lyft.
Smith said he rents a car to drive with Lyft and has to pay $240 a week for it. Now he is using the car primarily to drive to interviews for new jobs, including one at an Amazon fulfillment center – which is hiring during the coronavirus pandemic as delivery orders soar.
Cherri Murphy, a driver with Uber, said she drove for nine hours on Wednesday and made just $90, which is barely enough after $20-$40 on gas, and car maintenance and sanitizing.
“AB5 has to be enforced, and it has to be enforced now,” Murphy said. “Not only for our own economic stability, but for the health and wellbeing of our nation and communities.”
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