Uber and Lyft
Photo by William Jenkins.

Apps fail to provide adequate compensation to families of workers killed on the job

Gig platforms have consistently failed to provide adequate compensation after workers are injured or killed on duty, according to research by Gig Workers Rising. The research attributes this to the “growth-at-all-costs” model of the platforms. 

“After a worker’s tragic death, the corporations for whom they worked often send ‘thoughts and prayers’ through news reporters, but do not consistently support families with basic protections like workers’ compensation,” the press release stated. Lacking effective safety nets, workers are entirely on their own to figure out strategies to protect themselves. 

This research compiles news reports, legal filings, police records and family accounts indicating that more than 50 U.S. gig workers have been killed on the job since 2017. Still, as gig corporations have failed to adequately disclose gig workers’ homicides, the actual number may be much larger. Read the full report here

Hispanic adults most likely to be gig workers 

A survey by Pew Research reveals some insights about the demographics of gig work. Some of the conclusions are as follows:

  • Hispanic adults are more likely than other racial and ethnic groups to have earned money in this way; 30 percent have done so.
  • About one in 10 American adults (9 percent) have done gig platform work in the past 12 months.
  • 65 percent of gig-workers say they think of themselves as independent contractors, whereas about four in 10 Americans have heard nothing about debates on how ride-hailing drivers should be classified. 
  • Fewer than half of gig platform workers say they understand how the companies that run these platforms determine how much they get paid. 
  • Roughly half of Americans say the amount of government regulation should be the same as it is now for ride-hailing companies.

Inflation harms gig worker profits

As noted by Street Sense Media’s Atmika Iyer, after the height of the pandemic, more Americans are turning to the gig economy to sustain themselves. However, “this form of work has become less profitable during periods of inflation as workers face rising gas prices, fewer orders and lower tips.” Reduced profits have led many to consider leaving their job or working less.

Even as inflation forces more people to take gig work, the crowded workforce has resulted in fewer orders for each driver, leading to lower profits. To make matters worse, workers are suffering the effects of “sticky wages,” or salaries that have failed to change in response to inflation.

Lyft now renting rideshare vehicles to drivers directly 

Lyft’s U.S. Express Drive program, launched in 2016, is aimed at making it easier to drive with Lyft. The program provides cars from Lyft’s rental partners at Flexdrive and Hertz at a weekly rate starting from $209. Repair and maintenance are included in every Express Drive pricing plan, according to Lyft. More information is available here.

For its part, Uber’s rental program dates back to its 2015 Xchange Leasing project. Its rental cars for rideshare drivers come with insurance and basic maintenance, and Electric vehicle (EV) rentals are available in many cities. For more information about the Uber car rental plans, click here

New changes to Proposition 22 are expected this year

In November, 2020, Proposition 22, a ballot measure approved by voters following more than $200 million in donations from gig companies such as Doordash, Uber, Lyft, and Instacart, classified app-based ride-hailing and delivery drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, and thereby exempted them from mandatory employee benefits. In August of last year, Judge Frank Roesch of the Alameda County Superior Court ruled Prop. 22 both “unconstitutional” and “unenforceable.”

However, for now, the initiative will stay in force while interest groups representing app-based service platforms appeal the ruling. That is expected to take place this year. 

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REPORTER. Yujie Zhou is our newest reporter and came on as an intern after graduating from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. She is a full-time staff reporter as part of the Report for America program that helps put young journalists in newsrooms. Before falling in love with the Mission, Yujie covered New York City, studied politics through the “street clashes” in Hong Kong, and earned a wine-tasting certificate in two days. She’s proud to be a bilingual journalist. Follow her on Twitter @Yujie_ZZ.

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