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Buttigieg joins Uber, Lyft drivers protesting in California

Democratic presidential candidate Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate majority offers Biden new avenues on Trump environmental rollbacks | Democrats eye action on range of climate bills | Biden pushing to cancel Keystone XL pipeline as soon as he takes office: reports Biden rolls out group of deputy secretary nominees On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits MORE joined Uber and Lyft drivers protesting in San Francisco on Tuesday to advocate for a bill classifying them as protected employees.

The South Bend, Ind., mayor's appearance comes a day after he unveiled a new plan to expand gig workers’ rights, specifically targeting large tech companies like Uber.

“I’m here because where I come from, gig is another word for job, which means if you’re working a gig, that makes you a worker, and you ought to be protected as a worker,” Buttigieg told demonstrators.

“That means you deserve a minimum wage. That means you deserve protections from workplace and sexual harassment. That means you deserve overtime protection. And yes, that means you deserve a union,” he added. 

In his plan, Buttigieg hammered tech companies for labeling gig workers “independent contractors,” which can limit benefits.

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The White House hopeful also called for a guarantee for all workers to have the ability to join a union, specifically citing independent contractors such as Lyft and Uber drivers. The plan proposes “multimillion-dollar penalties for employer interference in union elections and workers’ rights.”

“They say that these technology companies are the future of the American workforce. I think that might be right,” Buttigieg said Tuesday.

“So do we want a future where there are no protections, no unions and workers are not treated as workers? Or do you want a future with justice? Do you want a future where you have the rights afforded to you by that representation? Do we want a better future for everybody working, whether it is full time in a traditional economy or not? Will we stand up for that? I think the answer is yes,” he said.

Several Democratic presidential candidates have appeared at protests demanding unions or other worker protections in the lead-up to the primary as the party works to win back blue-collar voters who historically have backed Democrats but voted for President TrumpDonald TrumpLil Wayne gets 11th hour Trump pardon Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Trump expected to pardon Bannon: reports MORE in 2016.