Uber, Lyft Drivers Say New California Law Does Not Address Their Health Care Needs

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A voting initiative passed by California voters last fall failed to deliver on its promise to taxi drivers, state lawmakers and drivers said on Tuesday.

“Voters have been sold disinformation, based on what we are seeing on the ground,” said Wendy Carrillo, state assembly member.

The state has reopened after more than a year of COVID-19 restrictions, which is expected to lead to a rebound in carpools, and drivers are calling on Uber Technologies Inc. UBER,
-2.67%
and Lyft Inc. LYFT,
-2.15%
automatically provide them with the health insurance subsidy promised to them under Proposal 22. A survey commissioned by SEIU 721 shows that only 15% of the drivers surveyed had applied for the allowance, and nearly 86% are likely to ‘be deemed ineligible.

Proposition 22 was passed by 58% of California voters in November after Uber, Lyft, DoorDash Inc. DASH,
+ 0.61%
and Instacart spent over $ 200 million on the campaign. The initiative – which allows gig companies to continue to treat their workers like independent contractors – has promised guaranteed wages for drivers, as well as healthcare allowances for those who work for applications 15 hours a week or so. more.

But drivers find that many of them don’t qualify for allowances, which a Sacramento Bee report finds covers about 40% of the average premium for the lowest level of a covered California plan, especially s ‘they have state health coverage.

Neide Tameirão, a Lyft driver who spoke at a press conference hosted by We Drive Progress and the Mobile Workers Alliance, said she was working about 50 hours a week before the pandemic to make ends meet. After Proposition 22, she said “nothing has really changed”.

“I still work 50 hours a week and my income is still barely enough to live on. I’m not making enough money, so I’m on Medi-Cal.

Tameirão said she was turned down when she applied for the health care allowance because she was on Medi-Cal, the state health insurance program for low-income individuals and families, as well as for the elderly, blind or disabled.

“They know a lot of their drivers are already covered by Medicare and Medi-Cal,” added Jerome Gage, a Southern California-based driver for Uber and Lyft and a worker organizer. “If you have an employer-sponsored health plan, that also disqualifies you. They put all of these barriers in place.

Noting that Lyft is scheduled to hold its annual general meeting on Thursday, Carrillo – a Democrat who represents the 51st assembly district which includes East Los Angeles – said, “Lyft shareholders should know: their company has promised good wages and health care. They broke their promise.

Lyft did not return a request for comment, but Geoff Vetter, spokesperson for the Protect App-Based Drivers & Services Coalition, said the companies had communicated with drivers on how to qualify and apply for the new benefits. health.

“In the five months since the adoption of Prop 22, thousands of people have started receiving the healthcare allowance and more will be signing up to receive it as the apps-based work will rebound, ”Vetter said.

A spokesperson for Uber sent the following statement: “The purpose of the health care allowance is to provide drivers and delivery people who do not yet have health insurance with a means of accessing a health care allowance. blanket. Driver and delivery surveys with Uber show the vast majority already have health insurance coverage with a separate employer, through a spouse, past service, or other source .

The drivers and two members of the state assembly also called for federal action through the passage of the PRO law, which would give drivers the right to organize. Additionally, they urged the National Labor Relations Board to classify drivers as employees, not independent contractors.

The PRO Act was passed by the US House of Representatives in March. The Senate has not yet seized it and may not do so because it does not appear to have enough support from the senators.

See: PRO law, called “the most important labor law for several generations”, passes the Chamber

State Assembly Member Miguel Santiago, a Democrat who represents the district that includes downtown Los Angeles, said the state “subsidizes” concert businesses. Carrillo also pointed out that taxpayers “have to cover 100% of the cost of unemployment” for drivers who were out of work because of the pandemic because Uber, Lyft and other concert companies do not contribute to insurance funds. state unemployment.

See: Shares of Uber, Lyft and DoorDash plunge after Biden’s labor secretary says “in many cases gig workers should be classified as employees”

Lucas Chamberlain, a driver in San Francisco, said he had worked for almost all ridesharing and delivery apps, and made about 6,000 trips with Uber. He, too, is on Medi-Cal and has been denied health care allowance.

In 2019, he said he was making a delivery for Uber Eats on his Vespa when he was hit by a vehicle. He needed leg surgery and physical therapy afterward, which Uber did not pay for, he said. Under Proposition 22, drivers are now supposed to be automatically enrolled in accident protection insurance.

“I deserve to be an employee, to be treated equally, I deserve a power take-off and sick leave,” Chamberlain said.

“They should be ashamed of themselves,” Chamberlain said of the concert businesses. “I am not a number, I am a person and I deserve to be treated fairly by these companies.”

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