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 WarnerHillicon Valley: Trump pushes to speed up 5G rollout | Judge hits Roger Stone with full gag order | Google ends forced arbitration | Advertisers leave YouTube after report on pedophile ring Warner questions health care groups on cybersecurity Cohen to testify before Senate Intel on Tuesday 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 KilmerWhere hope for Congress lies Dem rep says Coast Guard food pantry ran out amid shutdown The Hill's Morning Report - Shutdown drama shifts to Senate MORE (D-Wash.) and the New Democrats Coalition also supported the letter on social media.