Uber CEO Asks for Government Help for Drivers

On March 23, Uber Technologies Inc Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi asked the federal government to support its independent drivers and delivery workers in the coronavirus stimulus plan. The $1 trillion plan, still under negotiation in the House, is an attempt to control the economic damage caused by COVID-19.

Khosrowshahi released an open letter imploring the President to support Uber’s workers in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. “My goal in writing to you is not to ask for a bailout for Uber, but rather for support for independent workers and, once we move past the immediate crisis, the opportunity to legally provide them with a real safety net going forward.” This request extends beyond Uber’s own workers and includes all American independent contractors. “I respectfully and urgently request that the economic stimulus you are considering, along with any other future legislative measures in response to COVID-19, include protections and benefits for independent workers, not just employees,” writes Khosrowshahi.

This is not Uber’s first attempt at making changes for contract workers’ benefits. The company called for a new approach in a newsletter from January 13, 2018, saying, “Leaders across business, labor, and government have publicly recognized the need for action, but a myriad of legal, policy, and political hurdles have – to date – prevented meaningful progress toward a new portable benefits system.”

Uber has recently opposed arguments alleging they have misclassified their workers as independent contractors; they have also pushed back on California’s newly-passed AB-5 that would redefine the relationship between gig-economy companies like Uber and their workers. 

Khosrowshahi also mentioned in a tweet that he asked lawmakers to begin requiring other companies like Uber to provide new protections for independent contractors.