Following a monumental political battle, California passed AB5 a law that would make it much more difficult for gig economy companies to classify their workers as " independent contractors. " Well, the same political battle is coming to New York. That means it's a perfect time to hear from Uber and Lyft drivers, in their own words.
The app-driven growth of the gaming economy is largely based on the companies ability to classify the vast majority of their workers as independent contractors and avoid having actual employees, who come with all kinds of legal and financial obligations. The steep disadvantages of this practice – a large pool of underpaid working people without employer or state safety nets – have led to a major debate in the world of work politics about what to do with it. California law pursues the simple strategy of cutting off companies' ability to classify workers as contractors, forcing them to assume responsibility for treating them as employees. There is another line of thinking that says that we should instead preserve the familiar "flexibility" offered by gaming jobs, and protect these workers by building them a new set of government benefits. According to a Bloomberg Law story today, this debate may hit New York's imminent battle over this matter:
Sen. Diane Savino (D) plans to introduce updated legislation that will extend protection such as unemployment insurance, workers' compensation benefits and minimum wage requirements and overtime to a new class of "dependent workers." But a coalition of advocates is already pushing lawmakers. to move forward, enact something similar to a new California law designed to force gambling jobs and a host of other businesses to classify independent contractors as employees.
When California reviewed the bill last month, we asked Uber and Lyft drivers the most visible class of gambling jobs that will be directly affected by these changes, to send us an email and tell us their working conditions . Hundreds did . When New York breaks with the same questions, let us hear from several of the people whose lives can be changed.
Salt in our wounds
We pay for all physical operating expenses, car payments, car warranty, gas, insurance, repairs, telephone, data, deductibles for insurance, depreciation of car value, plus we add our time. For drivers who have fallen for the psychological manipulation apparatus with star rating, are the costs of water and snacks. The apps offer guitar music that comes with training videos to encourage us to believe that we are solely responsible for our star ratings and success, but that is not the reality. Drunk passengers who had a bad night often find it drowning that you are bad at telling them to respect your car seat and not playing loud music, screaming while driving or not taking 5 or 6 people, when the rules and the law say you can only take 4. Also in their training videos, with happy music playing, they tell us that we are quiet partners, which is obvious fraud, we are not partners or entrepreneurs, we are volunteers in the community service with little compensation for any expenses. We offer all the value, but we have to accept or leave the financial distribution of the funds they present. The apps do not offer value to us or the customer to justify how much money they hold back from the drivers and keep for themselves. We are not compensated for the fair market value of our services, not even a little. When gasoline prices go up, our taxes must be passed on to the consumer, because the consumer requires the service and therefore has to pay the costs. Nobody trusts the app companies that deceive us by denying our value and input. It's the coolest, ugliest, most unfair business model in existence, and the only saving grace of it is to feel like you're helping the community.
Drivers despise the app which only benefits the model they are working with. The app does not show profits, because they spend easy money that they do not value, because they do not work, maintenance and financial support to get it. Their miscalculation on the fruits of DRIVER WORK and ASSETS on their dangerous and expensive ridiculously expensive to drive self-driving car model, meant to put us out of business, is salt in our wounds. This business model has one and only one ethical tool. Every community should own the app, and drivers must be compensated for expenses, but volunteers donate the money to the south. Residents, schools and public without entrance parks and recreation, roads, etc. This benefit model is parasitism, it is almost like cancer because it gets bigger at the expense of the host (drivers). We lose money by driving a car, but it's hard to see it that way because it merges into our normal personal expenses …
We also don't know how to change this. Nobody fights for us because passengers just care about getting a cheap ride, they get upset and angry, and set up for the app (that's how they forget about us as "independent contractors", they don't see us as drivers and have no idea how little we get paid or how unfair our compensation model is) as they are for if.
I love the act of being a rideshare driver, but wish we were considered surplus shares instead. We do charity work, and it feels like a charity to do it. People are not valued as if it is charity, and that is what hurts.
From a veteran
I am 71 retired US Navy veteran. I have been driving for both Uber and Lyft for almost a year now, and think the average hourly wage (whatever hours I work) is less than $ 13.00 per hour minimum wage in New York. It hardly supplements my monthly insurance to help me pay the regular monthly bills.
Don't get me wrong, I am really grateful to Uber and Lyft for at least giving me this opportunity to subsidize my earnings somewhat. Just wish it would average at least the minimum wage per hour I work.
A page script. Uber and Lyft sent me to take a trip 20 minutes and 10 miles away, only to drive that 4 minutes 2 miles ride to earn a net $ 3.64.
Much power for a platform  Here's an experience: I was just disabled by Uber for having a "high cancellation rate." I cancel rides per uber policy because of:
A. No one shows
B. Single Minors
C. Too many passengers or luggage
D. no car seats for toddlers.
E. Warring / unsafe riders (the kind who curse and threaten drivers or refuse to use seat belts
But is this the power a platform uses? Uber claims passengers trust me and I let them down. I should have. turned off my app and did not accept the rides, but..I cannot know any of the above until I accept the trip and interact with the passenger.
So … how many "platforms" take such punitive action against an independent contractor and get this, my revenue this week is being held hostage and should be as long as I am disabled. Remember this is money I have already earned.
A lot of power for a platform eh.
I'm currently stuck on Lyft full time, and most of the horror stories you received don't even begin to scratch the surface of how truly awful things are, so I wanted to reach out and give you an idea of how things are in Austin, Tex.
Lift dropped their per mile rate by 33 (THIRTY THREE !!!) percent. How do they justify it? They announced that they are rolling out a new feature that would compensate drivers for the time it takes us to get to a passenger; what they did NOT announce was the interest rate cut. That is on top of the high share of the price they are already taking.
I do not know how and why they are allowed to lie to the government by telling them that they only take up to 26 percent of the prices. It is an obvious lie, one of many lies that I will refute by attaching receipts. [ The following income statements were attached ].
I am a driver on Long Island in New York. I have been running for Uber and Lyft for 2 years now. Actually, I stopped driving for a lift a year ago because most calls were between 13 and 25 minutes away for pickup. It's just burning too much gas.
I've been sticking with just Uber for the past year.
I have driven taxis, city cars and buses to private carriers on Long Island for 30 years before leaving them and coming to Uber.
Uber has killed at least 50 percent of Long Island's private taxi business. Last summer I worked 12 hours a night and it was very good indeed. I can make $ 350 to $ 400 a night. After gasoline, I could still fetch $ 300 home. Fast forward to this summer …..
I've been trying to work all day for 12 hours. I've been trying to work nights for 12 hours. I've even split the days so I could do both morning and evening lessons. The conversations are no longer close. You have to drive anywhere from 6 minutes to 25 minutes away. Last summer they were always 4 to 10 minutes away.
On a good day or night, I gross $ 185 to $ 220. After gasoline if I'm lucky $ 150 to $ 160 a 12 hour period. They saturate the long island with drivers …
They treat their drivers like crap. We are the backbone of the company. Without us, there wouldn't be an Uber … Long story short … Unless you really have no choice … Stay away from Uber … They'll bankrupt you … They'll ruin your car and they will make your life so stressful and hard.
One day's salary
One day I only drove three hours because of a family event. I made $ 24.15 and drove 65 miles.
I can either estimate my operating costs at 10 cents per kilometer for gasoline only. However, my car payment, insurance and gasoline cost 40 cents per kilometer.
Multiply 65 miles x 40 cents = $ 26.
Cost $ 26.00
Revenue: $ 24.15
If your company had some vacancies, I'm willing to pay YOU 62 cents an hour to let me work.
Thanks to everyone who wrote in.