While tensions, particularly in California, continue on in regard to rights and wages of rideshare drivers, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has published an opinion piece in the New York Times titled I Am the C.E.O. of Uber. Gig Workers Deserve Better.
The article, which was published on August 10, focuses on the idea of whether rideshare companies treat their drivers well. Khosrowshahi acknowledges that many critics, including those at the New York Times, believe companies like Uber have failed drivers by treating them like contractors. While Khosrowshahi does not believe his company is intentionally doing anything to avoid the cost of employee benefits, he does acknowledge that the current employment system is outdated and unfair.
The current employment system forces workers to choose between being an employee with more benefits but less flexibility, or being an independent contractor with more flexibility but practically no safety net. To combat this issue, Khosrowshahi says Uber is ready to pay drivers more and provide new benefits and protections. But, there’s an underlying issue with how the United States protects its workers.
In regard to why Khosrowshahi believes making all drivers employees isn’t the answer, Uber would only have full-time jobs for a small fraction of their current drivers. As a result, the company would be available in fewer cities, rides would be more expensive, and drivers would lose the flexibility they currently have.
Khosrowshahi believes there has to be a third way for gig workers. But, the challenge lies in the fact that the current system is binary. He proposes that gig economy companies be required to establish benefit funds which give workers cash they can use for benefits they want—which could potentially include health insurance or paid time off.
In the conclusion of his article, Khosrowshahi had this to say: “This is the time for Uber to come together with government to raise the standard of work for all. The opportunity is now, and the responsibility is ours. The world has changed, and we must change with it.”
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