On June 24, 2020, a caravan of honking cars stopped in front of Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s house. An estimated 40 to 50 rideshare drivers showed up outside the CEO’s house because they believe they deserve higher wages and health care benefits. According to Forbes, the protest was organized by We Drive Progress and Gig Workers Rising.
As the Dolly Parton song “9 to 5” played from speakers on top of a protester’s vehicle, organizers walked up to Khosrowshahi’s home and unfurled a sign which read, “A Thief Lives Here.” Protesters chose the San Francisco home as the site of their protest to hone in their point, as the home is currently valued at an estimated $17.7 million.
The protesters demanded that Uber stop its efforts to circumvent AB5, which would require companies like Uber to reclassify independent contractors as employees. While the law went into effect on January 1, 2020, it has not been implemented fully. They also pointed out that drivers are facing increased financial insecurity amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While the company has responded with a financial assistance program for up to 14 days to drivers who have been diagnosed with the illness, protesters say that’s not enough.
If the law goes into effect entirely, rideshare drivers should receive a minimum wage and could be eligible for benefits like overtime pay, paid sick time, and more. It’s estimated that if implemented, the law could increase labor costs by as much as 30% for app-based companies like Uber.
Since AB5 was introduced, Uber, Lyft, and other tech companies that rely on gig workers have spent over $100 million on a new ballot measure for the November election. The measure is called Protect App-Based Drivers & Services and it proposes that tech companies should be allowed to continue to classify drivers as independent contractors, but they would be guaranteed some benefits like health subsidies and occupational accident insurance.
According to Stacey Wells, a spokesperson for the Protect App-Based Drivers & Services measure, “By a 4:1 margin, drivers have said they want to remain independent contractors. They don’t want to be employees. That’s because 80 percent of drivers are part-time and drive fewer than 20 hours a week and most drive less than 10. They’re driving to supplement income around other jobs and life responsibilities and wouldn’t be able to work as full-time employees. That’s why more than 75,000 drivers support the Protect App-Based Drivers & Services Act on the November ballot.”