VICE reporter: Stimulus bill not enough for gig workers

Edward Ongweso, a technology reporter at VICE, said on Hill.TV’s "Rising" show Thursday morning that the $2 trillion stimulus package passed in the Senate late Wednesday does little to alleviate the burdens put on gig workers, particularly those who work for ride share companies such as Uber and Lyft.

He noted that in China, DiDi, an Uber competitor in the country, suspended service in the country's Wuhan province and created a fleet just for healthcare workers that was disinfected routinely. 

“In the United States Uber did nothing,” he said. “Uber only started to take any sort of action in the last three or four weeks after a massive stock sell-off crashed it to its lowest point.”

Ongweso said Uber classifies its drivers as contractors to avoid spending on employee benefits, claiming that it offers flexibility in return. He said that Uber has acknowledged that if California and New York move to change classification of Uber drivers they will have to change their business model. 

Under the Senate stimulus bill, drivers will qualify for at least $1,200 a one-time rebate check. Ongweso noted that apart from seeing a drop in income while still having to work, drivers have more expenses, such as insurance and possible car rental fees. 

“I don't think the stimulus package goes far enough. In other countries, they’re covering 60, 70, 80 percent of people’s incomes as another facet of the social distancing effort. Here, $1,200 is not going to do much for two weeks of unemployment.”