The Independent Drivers Guild (IDG) is grateful that Congress has passed and the President has signed a stimulus package that includes emergency compensation for independent contractors – including “gig” workers – affected by the pandemic.
Uber, Lyft and taxi drivers have seen their earnings crater and thousands of them cannot work at all. We are grateful that Congress and the President passed this desperately needed emergency compensation. Now the government needs to get those funds to workers quickly. As work has dried up and any savings are depleted, half of New York City’s Uber and Lyft drivers are already telling us they need assistance getting food. The urgency is real.
High-Volume For-Hire Vehicle companies need to step up on immediate compensation to sick and high-risk drivers as well. When Uber and Lyft put up hurdles and delays to approving sick pay for drivers, they are endangering all of us and putting public health at risk.
The IDG successfully fought for a ban on pool rides and has been fighting for the ride-hail apps to make it easier for sick drivers and those at high risk of death from COVID-19 to get sick pay to stay home. The Guild has a 24/7 crisis response team triaging hundreds of calls from New York City’s more than 80,000 FHV drivers.
Driving for Uber and Lyft accounts for the majority of household income for 70% of drivers, it accounts for 100% of household income for half of the city’s drivers. According to an IDG survey conducted in March, the majority of the city’s Uber and Lyft drivers are currently not working at all and many of those who are driving have seen their net income fall into the negative with expenses outpacing earnings.
Before I sign off this month, I wanted to share our association’s official statement regarding the tragic death of Queens Uber Driver Anil Subba:
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Anil Subba and send our condolences to his family who depended on him and could not even be with him in his final days due to this cruel virus,” said IDG spokeswoman Moira Muntz. “Poor federal screening and quarantine procedures at the airports put Uber, Lyft, and taxi drivers at unnecessary risk. The government was telling returning travelers to go home and self-quarantine but wasn’t providing a safe way to get them home. Where were the quarantine shuttles with drivers in protective gear, like we saw transporting cruise ship passengers? The government and the app companies must step up and do better by these hardworking men and women and deliver emergency compensation.”
Brendan Sexton is Executive Director of The Independent Drivers Guild