Recap: MWA Statewide COVID-19 Response Call with Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez

drivers demand real protections

Organizing During Corona

Nearly a thousand drivers from Mobile Workers Alliance and We Drive Progress hosted a statewide COVID-19 Response Call on Tuesday to share how the unprecedented outbreak of the novel coronavirus has impacted drivers, outline resources available to drivers and launch a campaign to escalate our demands for better protection from this outbreak from Uber, Lyft and other gig companies.

This was a first of its kind call for our organization and proof that even as the rest of the world shelters in place, we’re continuing our fight for driver rights!

Drivers Rosa Mendoza, Jerome Gage and Hector Castellanos were joined by several allies in our fight, including:

Pastor Cue Jn-Marie of the Church Without Walls
Bob Schoonover, President of SEIU Local 721
Joseph Bryant, President of SEIU Local 1021
CA Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez

Good News Up Top

SEIU 721 President Bob Schoonover began the call by congratulating drivers on successfully lobbying their federal legislators to include gig workers in the COVID-19 relief bill. Over the past weeks, drivers have made thousands of calls telling legislators not to leave us behind.

Our efforts worked and drivers are now eligible for unemployment protections outlined in the CARES Act. Still, Uber and Lyft are shirking their duties to drivers.

“Instead of using their vast resources to provide support to drivers during this crisis, Uber and Lyft have refused to follow state law and classify drivers as employees – a move which would immediately provide much-needed protection to every driver in California,” Schoonover said.

What Drivers Are Facing

Rosa, Jerome and Hector spoke emotionally about the challenges they are facing.

“I’m just tired of the situation,” Rosa said, her voice cracking. “I’m so scared to come home and bring a disease or get infected. I have to wait four hours for a passenger. I’m always behind, I don’t have enough earnings. What if I get sick? Who’s going to take care of me? What about other drivers with a family, with people they’re taking care of?”

Jerome echoed her sentiments, with a pointed call out of Uber, Lyft and the rest.

“This moment makes the truth crystal clear. Gig companies do not care about us, they’re sending us out to die to get richer,” he said.

All three spoke about how this crisis affects drivers particularly hard, magnifying existing problems like low wages, no insurance and no sick time, as well as introducing new ones like a drop in rider demand, the impossibility of self-isolating and, most importantly, increased risk of exposure to the disease.

A Word From the Legislature

We were honored to be joined on the call by the author of AB5, Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, who had words of encouragement for drivers.

“You feel like nobody cares about you and I want to be clear, this is the reason we passed AB5. In no way could we have anticipated something like the Coronavirus, but we knew that every worker deserves basic labor protections on the job. That’s what AB5 was about and thats how you won that right,” Gonzalez said. “Right now, Uber and Lyft continue to misclassify you. I care deeply about the consequences of that and so do my colleagues in the legislature.”

Gonzalez went on to encourage drivers to file for unemployment in California, as well as from the federal government.

Driver Resources

A large portion of the call was a live Q&A to help drivers access the resources available to them in this time. For a current list, check out our COVID-19 Driver Resources Page, which will be updated as more relief sources come available.

Show Uber & Lyft We Won’t Back Down

The thing that every person on the call returned to was just how deeply Uber and Lyft have failed their drivers. Not only do they exploit us when times are good, they’re only doing the bare minimum during a global crisis. Not only that, but they’re continuing their $110 million campaign to roll back AB5 RIGHT NOW!

The consequences of Uber & Lyft creating an army of underpaid, uninsured, misclassified workers are plain to see for all of us and they’re still spending unimaginable amounts of money (money that we earned them by driving) to fight for that evil system. Enough is enough. Use the form below to send a message directly to Uber & Lyft’s executives and board members. Drivers are putting their lives on the line for these billion dollar companies, it’s time for real relief.

We’ve already sent more than 12,000 messages since yesterday, let’s keep it up!