In one of them most disturbingly dystopian moves of the gig economy era, Uber and Lyft pushed their drivers to email lawmakers in late June to oppose any efforts to allow them to be classified as employees, to help ensure these drivers would never get benefits, overtime, or insurance. (30,000 Lyft drivers reportedly did, though many claim they did so accidentally because the in-app notification was completely misleading.) The effort was clearly unsuccessful, because the AB5 Employees and Independent Contractors bill has continued cruising through the California statehouse by landslide margins with each successive committee and floor vote.
Uber/Lyft's latest shenanigans: emails to thousands of drivers over the weekend urging them to become free lobbyists & *oppose* AB5, the California driver classification law.— Gig Workers Rising (@GigWorkersRise) June 17, 2019
It's a brazen, disingenuous move.
TOMORROW we're holding a presser outside Uber HQ to denounce it. pic.twitter.com/jQ3PpYJvcT
The drivers plan to drive that point home even further. TechCrunch reports these gig economy drivers are planning a protest caravan across California for three days next week. The advocacy groups Gig Workers Rising and Mobile Workers Alliance have organized the caravan that will start in Southern California Monday, August 26, and move its way through San Francisco to supposedly finish in Sacramento on Wednesday, August 28th. The groups claim more than 200 drivers will participate in support of AB5 and a drivers union.
TechCrunch spoke to participating driver Annette Rivero, who says she makes $150 a day despite working 60-hour weeks. “I was making about $1,500 working probably less than 40 hours,” she said, referring to a period before a new surge fare practice lowered driver pay. “Now I work about 60 hours and I’m making barely a thousand dollars.
“We have to do something. Because there’s a lot of people out there who are barely making it, barely surviving, can’t even put food on the table, can’t even afford healthcare. And these companies should be held accountable for it. They should be held responsible for it. It’s their responsibility as a business owner to give back to the community, not just take from the community.”
And harrowingly, she adds, “I have another friend who had kidney failure last year because drivers don’t want to drink water. They don’t want to have to stop to go to the bathroom because then that stops them from making money.”
The mere driving of a bunch of cars doesn’t sound like it would change much, as protest moves go. (On whether any extra civil disobedience is planned, Rivero says, “We want to keep that under wraps.”) But considering that both Lyft and Uber headquarters are in San Francisco, it’s a fair bet that these low-fare drivers will pull out some stops here.