Gig economy workers suffering from lost wages due to the coronavirus are seeking relief from the federal government, as they are independent contractors and aren’t eligible for unemployment.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote a letter to President Donald Trump on Monday (March 23) asking him to consider special funding to help the gig workforce as the demand for rides goes by the wayside.
In an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, people in many states have been mandated to stay at home, leaving only for medical attention or food. As a result, fewer people need the services of rideshare drivers.
“I respectfully and urgently request that the economic stimulus you are considering, along with any other future legislative measures in response to COVID-19, includes protections and benefits for independent workers, not just employees,” Khosrowshahi said in the letter.
“My goal in writing to you is not to ask for a bailout for Uber, but rather for support for the independent workers on our platform and, once we move past the immediate crisis, the opportunity to legally provide them with a real safety net going forward,” he added.
Khosrowshahi also pointed to the downsides of reclassifying gig workers, such as what was done in California with AB5.
″Reclassifying these workers as employees could result in the provision of more social protections, but the reality of employment means it would eliminate a key value proposition of this type of work. Instead of true flexibility – where workers need not report at a certain time or place, can start or stop working at the tap of a button and can work on multiple platforms simultaneously – driving or delivering would come to resemble the kind of shift-based work that many people cannot fit into their lives,” he wrote.
Khosrowshahi asked the Trump administration and Congress to consider updating labor laws to provide a “third way” to classify workers “to remove the forced choice between flexibility and protection for millions of American workers.”
He said the time for a new approach for gig workers is now, pointing to measures he has advocated for over the past two years.
Khosrowshahi also reached out to Congress, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, CNBC reported.
“As President Trump has said, we are going to ensure that we take care of all Americans, including affected industries and small businesses, and that we emerge from this challenge stronger and with a prosperous and growing economy,” a White House spokesperson told CNBC in a statement.