Five years ago, traditional jobs stopped being an option for me. As a retired, disabled Vietnam veteran and a caretaker for an ill family member, I needed to earn a living that kept the stress down but the flexibility up so I could meet my family obligations.
I’m semi-retired and usually drive rideshare part time. Like 80% of on-demand delivery and rideshare drivers, I did this to earn extra income so my wife and I can afford things our retirement savings wouldn’t otherwise provide.
Two months ago my entire life changed. In March, I worried about stocking up on toilet paper and buying masks. Then the state’s 40 million residents were asked to stay in their homes with limited social contact because of COVID-19 and I signed up to help bring food and supplies to people who can’t get out.
I’m a single mom with three daughters who works as a school secretary in San Diego. Money is always tight, but usually I can make ends meet. That changed last year when I had to take unpaid furlough days.
In January, I’ll reach a lifelong dream: becoming a student at California State University, Sacramento. I’m excited, but also worried because a new state law could threaten my ability to pay my bills and stay in school.
On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 5, which is intended to reduce worker misclassification by turning “independent contractors,” like rideshare drivers, into employees of the companies they work with. The new law would force giants like Lyft and Uber to do things like pay a minimum wage, provide health insurance benefits and paid sick days off.
On January 1, a law went into effect in California known as AB5 that is intended to reclassify many of the state’s independent contractors as regular employees and give them the workplace benefits they deserve, such as unemployment and disability insurance. Perhaps even more importantly, as employees, these gig workers will have access to the full body of rights under labor and employment law. Without those rights, contractors — Uber and Lyft drivers, freelancers and other gig workers — are being exploited. As employees under the new law, it is hoped, they will enjoy job stability and decent wages. The unstated assumption of lawmakers here is that companies will simply comply with the law and convert those gig jobs into full-time positions.
Even after a long economic expansion, America is still the land of the side hustle.
We are California rideshare and delivery drivers who support Proposition 22.
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Paid for by Yes on 22 – Save App-Based Jobs & Services: a coalition of on-demand drivers and platforms, small businesses, public safety and community organizations. Committee major funding from Lyft, Uber Technologies, and DoorDash.