Uber CEO calls for new benefits system for gig economy workers

Uber CEO calls for new benefits system for gig economy workers
© Greg Nash

Uber’s chief executive is calling for Washington state to develop a “portable benefits system” to give contract workers in the so-called gig economy access to health care and retirement planning accounts.

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Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi signed onto a letter with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 775 President David Rolf and Seattle investor and workers rights advocate Nick Hanauer urging the state to take action.

Uber does not hire drivers as actual employees meaning the company does not offer them benefits beyond compensation.

Khosrowshahi said having the state change laws so that contract workers can carry benefits between jobs would be preferable to Uber hiring them as full employees.

The letter says there are numerous "legal, policy and political hurdles” why companies like Uber haven't been able to offer contract employees benefits on their own.

“These hurdles will only be overcome when parties are willing to sit down, put aside historical differences, and work together to develop a solution,” Khosrowshahi, Rolf and Hanauer wrote. “Furthermore, while we applaud and support efforts at the national level, we believe there is great opportunity to take the first significant steps at the state level.”

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate Dems press for info on any deals from Trump-Putin meeting Overnight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Hillicon Valley: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | Sparks fly at hearing on social media | First House Republican backs net neutrality bill | Meet the DNC's cyber guru | Sinclair defiant after merger setback MORE (D-Va.) who has been calling for legislation on portable benefits praised the letter.

“This is an important start towards remaking our social safety net to address a changing economy,” Warner tweeted. “I applaud the @Uber-@SEIU partnership and will keep pushing my legislation to encourage this kind of portable benefits innovation at the local level.”

Rep. Derek KilmerDerek Christian KilmerDems urge Trump to reinstate top cyber post Congress to require FEC report on foreign money in elections With bills on the table, Congress must heed the call to fix our national parks MORE (D-Wash.) and the New Democrats Coalition also supported the letter on social media.