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Uber and Lyft Drivers Criticize Pay Cuts in California

Published on May 17, 2021 at 6:48 pm in News.

Since Proposition 22 went into effect in January, Uber and Lyft drivers have experienced pay cuts. More specifically, drivers have noticed a reduction in mileage rates from Los Angeles international airport, which has been an important source of income and rides for many drivers.

Alvaro Bolainez, a driver for Uber and Lyft in the L.A. area, spoke with The Guardian about the drop from 65 cents a mile to 32 cents a mile, as well as Uber removing the multiplier option for drivers to set their own prices for rides: “No driver in their right mind will go to LAX for 32 cents per mile. They took everything away, the ability to see what passenger we’re getting and the ability to set our own prices, the multiplier. It’s not fair that they get 60-70% of the fare when we do everything. We risk our life, we pay for insurance, we pay for the car and maintenance, we pay for everything.”

According to an Uber spokesperson, the changes at LAX and the dropping rate are a part of a pilot program to improve airport pickups for riders and drivers. The spokesperson also noted the reversal of the multiplier was a result of drivers turning down too many rides.

In addition to criticizing the drop in pay, drivers have also expressed upset in the implementation of healthcare benefits provided to gig workers as a result of Prop 22. Because of insurance coverage, nearly 86% of drivers are ineligible for any healthcare subsidiary.

In an attempt to placate drivers, Uber and Lyft announced “stimulus” packages for existing and new drivers. The incentives are supposed to reduce wait times for passengers as demand for rides increases as people around the country are vaccinated for COVID-19. Uber is offering $250 million to drivers for sign-up bonuses and other incentives, and Lyft is offering return bonuses, covered rental car costs, and other incentives.

According to Veena Dubal, professor of law at the University of California, Hastings, “These stimulus packages are traps. Many workers have stopped driving for Uber and Lyft because the pay is so low and the risk is so high. Seven years ago, when these companies first started, they lured workers into purchasing cars and working for them with similar incentives. Then, they dropped wages lower and lower, until workers were losing money after considering their expenses. But many vulnerable and marginalized workers couldn’t leave their jobs. These so-called stimulus packages are just another iteration of this pattern–lure workers in, trap them, and then lower wages.”

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