It was a busy news week for gig workers. We’ve got drivers in NYC struggling to make ends meet in the wake of not receiving a promised pay raise, the Minneapolis city council considering worker protections for Uber and Lyft drivers, Tesla slashing their prices in the US and Europe, making their EV more affordable, and Instacart is paying out a $5.25 million settlement for workers’ benefits. Plus more! Keep reading for this week’s roundup with senior RSG contributor Paula Lemar.
Instacart will pay $5.25 million to settle a workers’ benefit case (Engadget)
Summary: Instacart will pay workers $5.1 million as part of a settlement after it allegedly failed to provide some benefits, as The San Francisco Chronicle reports. San Francisco accused the company of violating healthcare and paid sick leave ordinances. The company, which has not admitted to wrongdoing, will pay an additional $150,000 to cover the city’s legal costs and pay for a settlement administrator to distribute the funds.
“Instacart has always properly classified shoppers as independent contractors, giving them the ability to set their own schedule and earn on their own terms,” Instacart said in a statement. “We remain committed to continuing to serve customers across San Francisco while also protecting access to the flexible earnings opportunities Instacart shoppers consistently say they want.”
People who worked as independent contractors for Instacart in the city between February 2017 and December 2020 are eligible for payments based on how many hours they worked. San Francisco estimates that between 6,000 and 7,000 people are affected by the settlement. The city and Instacart previously reached a similar settlement that covered an earlier time period. San Francisco has settled a benefits-related case with DoorDash too….
My Take: An estimated 6,000-7,000 workers were affected by the settlement and lack of benefits from February 2017 through December 2020. That’s a lot of people that will be getting some kind of payout, and that makes me happy. I love when these companies are held accountable for not holding up their end of the bargain.
While it wouldn’t amount to a huge amount of money for these workers, anything that rights a wrong is worth doing. As usual, the payments will vary depending on how many hours the individuals worked, among other variables.
Be sure to share your payouts with Harry at email@example.com.
Uber Drivers Say They Are Struggling: ‘This Is Not Sustainable’ (New York Times)
Summary: When Lamin Jatta began driving a yellow cab in 2012, competition was stiff to procure a taxi for his shifts from a busy garage in Queens. Along with other drivers, he would have to slip up to $25 to a dispatcher to make sure he got a car.
This cost, though unofficial, was on top of his daily taxi lease, $120 for a 12-hour shift, which took a big chunk out of his earnings. And if he got stuck in traffic returning to the garage, he would get hit with a $25 late fee.
So Mr. Jatta eventually traded in yellow cabs for Uber and Lyft, lured by the promise of more money and working on his own terms.
But now, Mr. Jatta, an immigrant from Gambia, cannot earn enough to support himself and his family. He and other ride-hail app drivers say they struggle to pay their rent and other bills, have maxed out their credit cards, and are stuck making payments on cars they no longer want….
My Take: Earlier in the week, a judge officially blocked the promised pay raise for rideshare drivers in NYC. As a response, this article came out in The New York Times, claiming drivers are not finding the gig sustainable anymore.
I know many people will say that this isn’t meant to be a full-time gig. But when rideshare first caught on, drivers could make an actual living from it. Now, it’s getting harder and harder to justify doing rideshare driving full-time, unless you’re in the busiest market and are willing to do whatever it takes to make that money.
So, the big question people have to ask themselves is whether or not Uber and Lyft are sustainable jobs to keep. With the companies themselves not turning a profit, it’s looking less and less sustainable in the long run, unless these companies make some big changes that ideally don’t adversely affect their drivers.
Read up on it here: Is Uber’s Business Model Sustainable?
Tesla cuts prices in the US and Europe by up to 20 percent (The Verge)
Summary: Tesla is cutting prices throughout Europe and in the US. Reuters reports that prices for a Model Y rear wheel drive have dropped by 17 percent in Germany, with cuts of 20 percent for the Model Y long range in the US. Tesla has also cut prices for its Model X and Model S in the US. The price cuts arrive less than a year after Tesla made multiple price hikes in 2022.
“At the end of a turbulent year with interruptions to the supply chain, we have achieved a partial normalization of cost inflation, which gives us the confidence to pass this relief onto our customers,” says a Tesla Germany spokesperson in a statement to Reuters.
Today’s changes put the prices of the Model 3 and Model Y below the listed price they were at before Tesla’s initial big price hikes almost a year ago. EV researcher Troy Teslike has compiled a list showing the price changes in the US, with the Model Y long range now $13,000 cheaper before the tax credit and $20,500 cheaper including the credit. That’s a 31 percent discount in total after the tax credit….
My Take: Between price cuts and tax credits, you can get a Tesla for about the same cost as a standard gas vehicle. Will this make the big difference needed to get people to buy EVs more than gas-powered cars?
While the price tag is still a bit on the high end, it might be enough with the tax credit to convince people on the fence to take the leap.
The electric vehicle tipping point is almost here (REV)
Summary: Electric vehicles (EVs) have been around in the U.S. for decades, but they still represent just about 5% of new car sales. That’s not even close to good enough for our planet — or for Lyft. We’ve pledged to achieve 100% electric vehicles across the Lyft platform by the end of 2030. We recently announced a suite of new offerings for drivers on our platform to switch to EVs, but they are a large and diverse group — and we can’t count on all of them to be early adopters. For all of us to address the urgent threat of climate change, EVs need to get a lot more popular, and quickly.
This might sound gloomy, but as Lyft’s director of sustainability, I’m not worried. Successful technology adoption doesn’t always happen in a straight line. It often looks more like a hockey stick, growing slowly until it hits an inflection point and suddenly takes off. We’ve seen this again and again — from personal computers to smartphones to the internet itself. And from everything I’ve observed over the past year, including important investments from government and private industry, EVs are on the cusp of the same kind of massive growth.
Of course, not every technology experiences hockey-stick growth. But if you look at the ones that did, you’ll see they share some characteristics. And you’ll see that they have a lot in common with where EVs are today….
My Take: Continuing down the EV path, this article, from Lyft’s new REV page, all about EV news, believes that we’re reaching the tipping point where EVs are becoming more affordable, more efficient, and more what people will be looking for.
Charging stations have gone up around the nation, making it more accessible to charge your electric vehicle while traveling cross-country. Pair that with EV batteries lasting longer than ever before, giving you more mileage per run, and it’s making EV a more feasible option for a lot of people.
Keep up with the latest EV news related to rideshare drivers on RSG’s Uber & Lyft EV Drivers Facebook page.
Miracle Uber Ride results in driver donating kidney to passenger (ABC)
Summary: Bill Sumiel needed a kidney.
And because his center needed to pick him up at his Salem, N.J. home, he also needed an Uber ride.
On the car ride to the dialysis center, he and his driver struck up a conversation about the problems Sumiel was having.
By the end of the car ride, Uber driver Tim Letts, told him that “God put him in his car that day” and offered him his kidney.
They ended up being a match….
My Take: I love feel-good stories, especially when a lot of what we see in the news is so negative, with carjackings and shootings and theft, etc.
What are the chances you end up being a match and finding someone willing to give up their kidney for you? It renews my faith in humanity when I see stories like this.
Please keep doing great things.
Also in the news…
Uber, Lyft drivers call for protections; Minneapolis City Council takes first steps (Kare11)
Thoughts: As someone who lives in the Twin Cities, it’s heartening to see the city taking steps to improve the lives of workers. How it will shake out is yet to be seen, but at least this is a start.
JetBlue Will Pay for Your Uber Ride to or from the Airport Now (Thrillist)
Thoughts: It sounds like a nice little perk. If JetBlue isn’t getting people flying with them, this might be a nice way to get more people to consider it.
What feel-good rideshare or delivery experiences have you had? Share in the comments!
-Paula @ RSG