What steps would you take to protect the rights of low-income and immigrant workers in the context of the “gig economy”? Should Uber, Lyft, and other companies that make use of temporary workers classify them as employees, and if so why?

Respuestas en español aquí.

Joshua Arce, Civil Rights Attorney

As a longtime member of labor and someone who worked to pass our local hiring policy for construction, I believe it is in everyone’s interest to provide our workforce with the best-paying jobs possible to combat the rising inequality we see in our city. The gig economy provides flexibility and additional work options, but I would like to see workers receive adequate wage, benefit, and working condition protections through collective bargaining.

At the very least, we should be having immediate discussions with gig economy employers and leaders in the labor movement about how to provide portable benefits to gig economy workers. Portable benefits would give workers more of a safety net than what they currently have.

Iswari España, Training Officer with the Human Services Agency

Low-income and immigrant workers have always been the least protected sector of the workforce in San Francisco. As supervisor, I vow to protect and create adequate funding to expand protective employment laws. I will push to expand the powers of the Office of Labor and Standard. As a longtime advocate of employer and employment rights, I am a firm believer that all workers need to be protected. It’s the government’s role to regulate legal business practices. Thus, Lyft and Uber and other businesses with the same practices should not be the exception to the rule. They need to share liability costs like every business in the city and assume the responsibility to protect their workers. Reclassified temporary workers may not receive unemployment or over-time benefits; they don’t have a safety net if they are laid off, they would not be able to contribute to their communities and support their families. If we want to help our city grow, we need to invest in paths of self-sufficiency and economic growth.

Hillary Ronen, Chief of Staff for Supervisor David Campos

Companies operating in the “gig economy” must follow the same rules that conventional businesses follow in San Francisco. They should not be getting special treatment and frankly don’t need it since companies like Lyft and Uber are profiting to the tune of billions. As a former worker’s rights attorney, it is clear to me that Lyft and Uber drivers are employees and deserve basic rights like minimum wage, overtime, and protection from workplace injury.

Thankfully, last month a Federal Judge tossed out a Chamber of Commerce lawsuit against the City of Seattle paving the way for the enactment of a local law giving Lyft and Uber drivers the right to organize a union.

I will pass a similar law in San Francisco. The only way workers in the “gig economy” will earn living wages – enough to survive in the most expensive city in the United States – is through a union.

Melissa San Miguel, Education Advocate

As a daughter of immigrants, I understand the need to protect the rights of low-income and immigrant workers. Many of my friends are drivers for companies like Lyft, so I am deeply interested in ensuring the rights of these workers. Many of these workers work part-time to full-time for these companies and they should be classified as employees given the hours they put into the work and company. Many who are working in the “gig economy” use that employment as their main job or one of their main jobs to provide for their families. Our city should be proactive about protecting the rights of these workers in any context. All workers deserve a right to healthcare, a pension and other benefits that accompany the designation of being an employee.

43 Questions is a weekly series — started 43 weeks before Election Day — to question the candidates running for District 9 supervisor. Send us questions to info@missionlocal.com and let us know in comments or in an email if you think candidates have answered as asked.

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  1. “They should probably ask Lyft and Uber how many of their drivers are actually from the Mission district.”

    Or at least those who service SF exclusively! Funny how the question of embattled SF taxi drivers’ livelihoods never gets lip service from supervisorial candidates, with the notable exception of Aaron Peskin. (Or, for that matter, from Mission Local.)

  2. They should probably ask Lyft and Uber how many of their drivers are actually from the Mission district. 99 percent of the drivers come in from outside the bay area every morning into SF to flood the streets. Not sure why the Sups would want to help drivers who are not invested in the Mission area. Lyft and Uber by locating in the Mission and Mission bay areas, Ill assume, contribute more to the local economy than any of these drivers who are driving in from San Jose and Vallejo and congest 101 and 280 every morning. Sups should think a bit before reflexively placing their progressive stamps on every issue.