That convoy of Uber and Lyft drivers that drove up from Southern California to stage a demonstration in Sacramento on Wednesday made their way, predictably, to protest outside Uber's SF headquarters on Tuesday.
Several dozen rideshare drivers encircled Uber's Mid-Market HQ Tuesday afternoon and disrupted traffic, and presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg used the opportunity to show his support for gig-economy workers and give a stump speech. As the Examiner reports, Buttigieg said he stands with gig workers, and remarked, "I’m here because where I come from, gig is another word for jobs. That means you’re a worker and you ought to be protected as a worker."
A group of drivers for both Uber and Lyft organized the caravan Monday to show support for Assembly Bill 5 — a bill that so far has had strong support in the California legislature that would force companies that primarily profit from contract drivers and delivery people to make those people full-time employees. The caravan began in Los Angeles and gathered in the Bay Area on Tuesday, with the demonstration at Uber HQ and a subsequent event in Oakland, as ABC 7 reports.
"Do we want a better future for everyone, whether full-time in a traditional company or not? Will we stand up for that? I think the answer is yes," said Buttigieg at the SF rally, per the Chronicle.
WITH VIDEO! Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg joined Uber and Lyft drivers protesting in San Francisco on Tuesday to advocate for a bill classifying them as protected employees.#PeteForAmerica #PeteButtigieg #WinTheErahttps://t.co/vgUT2KxzK0— YouCantBeatPete (@youcantbeatpete) August 27, 2019
Mayor @PeteButtigieg marched with California gig workers outside @Uber HQ to fight for better pay, benefits, protections & a path to a union. Mayor Pete is right "a gig is a job" and workers deserve to be able to work hard and care for their families. #AB5 #UnionsForAll pic.twitter.com/HSgMVMTt6t— SEIU (@SEIU) August 27, 2019
As Gizmodo reports, the area around Uber's headquarters at 1455 Market Street showed heavy traffic on the Uber app almost immediately after the demonstration began at noon Tuesday. As a driver named Adam told Gizmodo, regarding his reasons for being there, "I cannot estimate my income, other than the fact that it constantly goes down. One accident, one serious illness is all it would take to ruin my life and my ability to provide for my son."
Another driver, 63-year-old Debbra Garcia, told ABC 7, "By California law, we are supposed to be paid minimum wage or 52 cents a mile. We are not getting that. We are getting six cents a mile."
AB5 would expand upon the so-called Dynamex ruling by the California Supreme Court and upend the business models of all gig-economy businesses by strictly defining how independent contractors can be hired. The court decision set a clear rule for defining contractors saying that they must (a) be free from the company’s control, (b) be doing work that is not central to the company’s business, and (c) be themselves an independent business in that industry. Uber and Lyft drivers fail the test for both a and b, with many arguing that the apps themselves control the labor force — and the companies can hardly claim to be much else besides taxi services whose drivers are their primary revenue generators.
Uber and Lyft have been doing their best to lobby against the passage of AB5, for obvious reasons, but it continues to gain traction in Sacramento. In June the companies pushed drivers to sign a petition and send their own emails to lawmakers opposing the bill, and many claimed they did so accidentally after misunderstanding the petition they were sent.
Tuesday's SF protest is expected to be followed by a subsequent one in Sacramento on Wednesday.