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Uber CEO’s Callous Demand to Create a New Underclass for Gig Workers Must be Rejected

Statement by California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski


Media reports this morning exposed that Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi sent a letter to President Trump asking that Uber drivers and all gig workers be classified as a third group with fewer rights and protections than employees. Response from Art Pulaski:

It’s despicable that Uber’s CEO, who gets paid $50 million a year, is using the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to strip drivers and other gig workers of basic protections like paid sick days and a minimum wage they’re owed under California law.

Let’s be clear: A “third way” is just a euphemism for creating a new underclass of workers with fewer rights and protections. What wealthy CEOs like Khosrowshahi really want to achieve is a massive burden shift from corporations to workers and taxpayers.

California law is crystal clear. Uber’s drivers and other gig workers are employees under the law as repeatedly defined by courts, the legislature and California’s governor. Uber has a responsibility to provide a minimum wage, paid sick days, overtime pay, workers’ compensation, safety equipment and other basic protections. If Khosrowshahi really wants to “rise to meet the challenge” he’d immediately create a fund to provide direct relief to struggling workers, as Netflix and other companies have done, he’d start contributing to the state’s unemployment insurance fund to support all workers as the company is required to do by law and he’d comply with AB 5 by reclassifying all drivers so that they have full employee protections.

Anything less is a slap in the face to Uber drivers and all workers. We demand that the federal government stands with gig workers and taxpayers by rejecting the callous request to deny millions of workers the protections they so desperately need in this time of crisis.

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