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Uber, Lyft Drivers Want $110 Million Covid-19 Fund for Workers (1)

March 19, 2020, 8:17 PM; Updated: March 19, 2020, 8:53 PM

Rideshare drivers are calling on Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc., and similar platform operators to create a $110 million assistance fund to help drivers through the coronavirus crisis—roughly the same amount the companies are spending on a proposed ballot measure to stop gig workers from being made employees.

Members of the Mobile Workers Alliance asked the companies to end their campaign behind the ballot initiative to largely shield them from a new state law known as A.B. 5. They want the companies instead to invest the money spent on the campaign into a fund that would support drivers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“People are going to die, and the blood will be on Uber and Lyft’s hands,” Jerome Gage, an Uber driver, and a member of the alliance that represents gig economy workers said on a teleconference Thursday.

Gage also called for two weeks of basic paid leave for any driver affected by the virus, as well as free screenings.

Stacey Wells, a spokeswoman for the Protect App-Based Drivers and Services Coalition behind the proposed measure, said the push to classify drivers as employees would not lead to new benefits.

“Instead, it would lead to the widespread elimination of work for hundreds of thousands of Californians, jeopardizing these essential services at a time when millions are counting on them,” Wells said in a statement.

A.B. 5, signed into law last year, would make it harder for companies to designate gig workers are independent contractors. That distinction typically determines whether workers are protected by wage laws and eligible for protections like workers’ compensation benefits and unemployment insurance.

Uber, Lyft, Doordash, and Instacart have said they will offer assistance to drivers afflicted with the virus or in quarantine, but haven’t offered help to other drivers affected by the pandemic.

(Adds reaction from the Protect App-Based Drivers and Services Coalition in the 5th and 6th paragraphs.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Tiffany Stecker in Sacramento, Calif. at tstecker@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; Karl Hardy at khardy@bloomberglaw.com

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