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US gig workers carry on the fight for rights as jobless aid comes to an end

After years of working as a consultant and legal secretary, Laurie Richards wanted to do something different. She saw a Facebook ad for Shipt, a grocery delivery app owned by Target, and was hired to shop for Michigan customers 7-8 hours a day.

Then the Covid-19 hit and Richards needed to save time. She became one of the 29.8 million Americans who applied for pandemic unemployment assistance. For the first time, Congress provided a safety net to an estimated 57 million gig workers and freelancers who are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

“It was very helpful … I am grateful that it was available to us,” Richards said.

The program will expire on September 6, after two extensions by Congress. Other unemployment benefits are also expected to end, with nearly 10 million people remaining tied to cash as Covid-19 cases increase again.

“This doesn’t seem to be a good time to finish some of these federal programs,” said Stephen Wandner, senior researcher at the National Institute of Population and Social Insurance.

The law is Gig economy Over the last decade, governments around the world have struggled to regulate it.

In February, the Uber Supreme Court ruled that Uber drivers were entitled to the minimum wage and holiday wages. In the United States, parliamentary passage of PUA is a battle for better collective bargaining and better labor protection for gig workers who lacked traditional employers, lacked collective bargaining, access to medical care, and paid sick leave and unemployment allowances until a pandemic occurred. It was an epoch-making event in.

Pastor Cherri Murphy, Lyft Driver and Lead Organizer of the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, said the expiration of the PUA exacerbated the problems many workers are already facing, such as poverty and eviction of peasants. He said he would endanger the health of passengers. ..

“The moral imperative is that [PUA] Needs expansion. The question is whether our senators have the moral will to pass the bill, “Murphy said. She started operating Lyft in 2018, but stopped in March 2020 due to Covid-19 concerns.

Expiration of benefits has a disproportionate impact on people of color, as more than half of gig workers are black or Hispanic. The same group is experiencing a slow economic recovery from a pandemic. At least 20 states have already stopped PUA before the federal deadline after the Republican governor accused unemployment allowances for labor shortages.

The moratorium on student loan debt and eviction of peasants has been extended, but the extension of PUA is unlikely without the participation of key Democrat Joe Manchin. Without Republican support, all 50 Democrats would have to support the extension in order to pass it.

“We have a lot of politicians who don’t understand what it means to be poor,” said Luke Gray, a gig worker at food delivery companies DoorDash, Grubhub, and Instacart.

Gray traveled to Nashville for eight hours outside his hometown on the Gulf of Mississippi, making more deliveries during the pandemic. This is despite the underlying health and constant fear of being infected with Covid-19. He is three months late in rent.

“No matter where I go, I feel confused no matter what,” he said.

About one-third of US gig workers, like Richards, decided to work in less time because of the fear of catching them. COVID-19.. The ride-sharing sector was particularly hit, with Uber and Lyft’s daily active driver numbers declining by more than 40% between March and August 2020.

Riders complain about long wait times and high prices, and companies are still experiencing labor shortages.Last quarter, Uber and Lyft poured millions of dollars into financial incentives Pull back the driver To their app, which includes a $ 250 million stimulus package from Uber and a bonus of up to $ 800 to return a Lyft driver. According to Uber’s second-quarter earnings report, the app gained 420,000 active drivers and courier services per month from February to July.

John Zimmer, president and co-founder of Lyft, hopes that the expiration of the federal unemployment allowance will act as a “tailwind” to attract more workers to the app. “In the second quarter, we saw an increase in driver applicants in states that opted out of the federal program early,” he said in the company’s latest earnings announcement.

Revenues such as DoorDash and Instacart increased last year, but workers reported that revenues declined as companies changed their payment algorithms. On July 31, Dash went on strike after DoorDash reduced the $ 3 base salary given to Dash for each order without a tip to just $ 2.

Shelly Steward, director of the Future of Work Initiative at the Aspen Institute, said a permanent program is needed to support gig workers and low-wage workers.

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Companies such as Uber and Lyft are fighting to classify workers as follows: Independent contractor, Excludes employee benefits such as traditional unemployment insurance and paid sick leave.

Gig workers won a big victory over these companies on Friday by a judge in the California Superior Court. declaration Proposal 22 is unconstitutional. A voting bill passed by California voters last year exempted gig workers from employee status. More than 90% of the $ 224 million spent on advertising comes from companies such as Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Postmates, making it the most expensive voting initiative in state history. Friday’s ruling came after gig workers and the Service Employees International Union filed a proceeding to challenge the new law.

“Gig companies know that we are the force that drives them. Without us, we wouldn’t have Uber, Lyft, DoorDash,” said Gig Workers Collective’s chief organizer and Shipt and Uber Eats gig worker. Willy Solis says.

The battle is not over yet. Proponents of Proposal 22 have already stated that they will appeal the court’s decision, and the gig company is fighting to take similar steps in Massachusetts.

Regarding her concerns about Raleigh Richards and the Delta variant, she will return to work when the unemployment allowance ends.

“I feel like I don’t have a lot of choices,” she said.

US gig workers carry on the fight for rights as jobless aid comes to an end Source link US gig workers carry on the fight for rights as jobless aid comes to an end

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