April 15, 2020
Contact: Steve Smith, 510-326-4644
Statement by California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski on Governor Newsom’s Executive Order on Unemployment Insurance
“Over a month into this pandemic, workers for some of the wealthiest companies in California still haven’t seen any relief. Uber, Lyft and other gig corporations have refused at every turn to provide much-needed unemployment insurance for their drivers in desperate need of help.
“By refusing to comply with the law to classify workers as employees and provide wage data the state needs to process claims, these companies deliberately held up funds that drivers could be using now to pay for necessities like rent and food. Several hundred thousand drivers in California face the grim reality of empty bank accounts and bare cupboards. There are a million more workers here who are also suffering, all because the companies they work for refuse to call them employees. As taxpayers, we’re covering those workers so that their bosses can make out like bandits.
“Gov. Newsom took action today to free up federal relief dollars for gig workers while asserting their rights as employees under California law, but it should never have come to this. All taxpayers are now on the hook as a result of these wealthy companies’ refusal to follow the law.
“If these companies had the slightest concern for their workers, they would have complied with the law from day one. Uber and Lyft think they’re above the law, never contributing a red cent, as all employers are required to do, to the state’s overly-stressed unemployment insurance fund. They refuse to provide any worker relief despite spending over $100 million on their ballot measure campaign to permanently avoid providing basic protections like paid sick days, safety equipment and unemployment insurance.
“We call on the governor to join drivers and other gig workers in demanding these companies be held accountable for breaking the law and putting their employees in harm’s way. We demand Uber and Lyft immediately contribute to the state’s unemployment insurance fund, pay back taxes that are owed to the UI fund, and drop their harmful ballot measure that would further erode core workers’ rights. We simply can’t allow scofflaw companies like Uber and Lyft to harm their own drivers and lower standards for all employees without consequence.”
The California Labor Federation is made up of more than 1,200 unions, representing 2.1 million union members in manufacturing, retail, construction, hospitality, public sector, health care, entertainment and other industries.