As independent contractors working for ride services Uber and Lyft across the U.S. went on strike Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took to Twitter to declare that they are not independent contractors – but, employees with rights similar to those of full-time employees.
In his tweet, Sen. Sanders added that he stands “in solidarity” with the striking drivers:
“Uber and Lyft drivers are struggling as they work for billion-dollar companies. These drivers are not ‘independent contractors’—they are employees who deserve rights and benefits. I stand in solidarity with them as they strike today for a dignified life.”
But, as The San Francisco Chronicle reports, Lyft and Uber drivers are independent contractors for companies that are already losing money – that would be forced to hike customer prices by at least 30 percent, if the contractors were paid like full-time employees:
“The two biggest gig-work companies, Lyft and Uber, which have multibillion-dollar Wall Street debuts planned soon (Lyft will go public on Friday; Uber next month), rely on millions of drivers who are independent contractors. Turning them into employees with benefits and minimum wage could add 30 percent or more to the companies’ labor expenses. Even with their current models, Uber and Lyft lose money. Both companies, like other gig firms, say they want to protect workers, but that includes protecting their ability to work whenever they want.”
And, while striking drivers are demanding job security, livable incomes and fare-regulation guaranteeing them 80 to 85 percent of the fare, a Lyft spokesperson tells Fox Business that more than three-fourths of its drivers are working less than 10 hours a week:
"Over 75 percent drive less than 10 hours a week to supplement their existing jobs. On average, Lyft drivers earn over $20 per hour. We know that access to flexible, extra income makes a big difference for millions of people, and we’re constantly working to improve how we can best serve our driver community."