In this week’s roundup, senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins dives into Uber bans overseas, Prop 22-like proposals, DoorDash restaurant grants during COVID and more.
Local nonprofits join Uber, Lyft in new coalition for ‘app-based workers’ [Biz Journals]
Summary: A new local coalition has launched in Massachusetts saying it plans to advocate for “flexibility” as well as “increased benefits” for gig economy workers. It’s backed by large national companies including Uber and Lyft, as well as local industry groups and nonprofits, just as debate over the status of such workers is being examined in courts worldwide.
My Take: This stinks a lot like Prop 22. In order to get around the labor laws, Uber and Lyft decide for themselves what’s best for their drivers.
It’s going to be back and forths and propaganda from both sides, just like we saw with Prop 22, and the people making the ultimate decisions aren’t the ones being affected.
One reader commented on our Facebook post about this news stating, “Uber and Lyft are only going to be for CHEAP RIDERS as BLACKLANE and OTHER BLACK CAR SERVICE APPS ARE COMING.”
In my opinion, Uber and Lyft are already only really there for cheap riders anyway. It’s supposed to be an affordable option for people. Or at least more affordable than chauffeur-type services.
No matter what though, I think we’ll all be keeping an eye on Massachusetts to see what transpires from this. While also keeping in mind that the PRO Act is making its way through Congress that would be directly affecting rideshare drivers and the platforms they drive for, nationwide.
Brussels bans Uber drivers from picking up rides through the app [Politico]
Summary: Uber drivers can no longer use their smartphones to arrange rides in Brussels effectively putting a stop to the app-based taxi system in the EU capital, the local government said on Monday.
Drivers continuing to use their smartphones to accept new trips now risk a fine, a temporary suspension or permanent withdrawal of their license or the confiscation of their vehicle under a newly enforced taxi regulation.
“The problem is it’s the system itself that’s condemnable,” Brussels Minister President Rudi Vervoort told RTBF. “I’m simply telling everyone to respect the rules, that’s all.”…
My Take: Drivers in Brussels are upset. And rightfully so. This is their livelihoods being taken away. They even had a demonstration that halted traffic outside the office of Brussels Minister President Rudi Vervoort.
Drivers who continued to accept rides on the app would face a fine, suspension or permanent deactivation of their license…possibly even the confiscation of their vehicle. Thousands of drivers were affected.
The demonstration was not for or against Uber or the government. Instead it was a way of defending their right to work.
Instacart Valuation Doubles to Reach $39 Billion With New Funding [MSN]
Summary: Grocery delivery giant Instacart announced a new funding round on Tuesday, lifting its valuation to $39 billion and making the company one of the most valuable startups in the world.
Buoyed by a surge in demand for deliveries during the pandemic, the company raised $265 million from investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital and D1 Capital Partners, as well as Fidelity Management & Research Co. and T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. The startup had been valued at $17.7 billion during its most recent funding round, which was less than five months ago….
My Take: Of course, Instacart is gearing up to go public later this year. It was also recently announced they are looking to do a direct listing instead of an IPO. No matter what public avenue they choose, Instacart is planning on using their new funding in order to expand advertising and to increase its employees at the corporate level.
Interesting that the influx of funding mentions nothing about raising the pay for their delivery drivers….
Attorneys Say Pressure To Deliver Caused Uber Eats Driver’s Crash That Resulted In South Florida Teen’s Death [CBS Local – Miami]
Summary: Friends and loved ones gathered Wednesday to honor a South Florida teen, killed just off the University of Florida’s campus.
Rabbi Jonah Zinn is speaking out on behalf of the heartbroken family of Sophia Lambert.
The Pinecrest teen, who was a freshman at UF, was killed in Gainesville in January when she was hit by a car.
My Take: Obviously tragedies like this are hard to hear and the loved ones look for explanations. I would be doing the same if something similar happened to someone I know.
But, in all honesty, I wouldn’t blame Uber Eats for this teen’s death. It is 100% the fault of the driver. The nature of the business does not allow for supervision or being observed, which is one thing the lawsuit seems to wish the company would have been doing. It would not be possible to have a supervisor in every vehicle of a driver on the platform.
Also, no amount of training would have prevented a driver doing a stupid thing. For anyone who drives on the platform and makes a stupid mistake behind the wheel, it’s not the business’s fault for the decisions that person makes. It’s the person’s fault.
I understand where they are coming from, but tragic instances like these are bound to happen. People make bad decisions and sometimes that costs people’s lives. Yes, the idea behind earning more on the platform is to deliver food as quickly as possible because then you can move on to the next order and continue earning. However, it’s the choice of the individual to be safe in the way they do this.
Don’t get me wrong…I would love for Uber to pay its drivers more so the “need” for picking up as many passengers or deliveries as possible would be alleviated. But there’s no excuse for making these kinds of bad decisions while driving, no matter what.
DoorDash gives COVID-19 grants to 25 St. Paul restaurants [Pioneer Press]
Summary: DoorDash, the third-party delivery service that operates nationwide, has announced that 25 St. Paul restaurants will receive $5,000 grants through its COVID-19 Restaurant Relief Grant program.
The grants are part of a $200 million effort to empower local communities, $10 million of which is in direct grants.
The grants can be used to cover operating costs, including rent, payroll, purchasing PPE, expanding outdoor dining capacity and other expenses….
My Take: My first reaction to this is…AWESOME! These businesses have been suffering for about a year. It’s about time they get some help.
DoorDash may have its ups and downs, but this is a definite up, in my opinion. These grants are available for other areas of the country and into Canada as well, as part of DoorDash’s Main Street Strong initiative.
It’s geared toward small restaurants that are not connected to large, national chains, and could use the extra help due to COVID-19 restrictions and shutdowns.
Way to go, DoorDash!
What do you think of Prop 22-like proposals making its way to New England? What about the DoorDash Main Street Strong grant program? Will you be affected by one of the news stories this week?
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-Paula @ RSG