Connect with us

Workers

Denver’s Gig Economy Workers Share Their Stories

Published

on

Photo by Victor Xok on Unsplash

Caught between the new coronavirus and earning a living, the Mile High City’s independent workforce opens up about how Lyft, Amazon, Instacart, and others are supporting them (or not) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 •  

In many ways, gig economy workers have become the unsung heroes of the COVID-19 crisis, often facing frontline exposure to the virus without the protections—including health and unemployment benefits—provided to traditional employees. Some companies have made efforts to support workers during this time, such as offering two weeks of sick pay for those diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. But even workers ordered to stay at home by local governments have experienced challenges getting the companies approve their claims.

Last week, which began with Instacart and Amazon employees and contractors striking for higher pay and better safety measures, several Denver gig workers talked with 5280 about their experiences during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Partner Content

*Full names withheld at the request of the subjects. 

Nate*: Instacart

People are desperate, but that’s good though. Customers, they feel so bad for us, so a lot of the time they’re tipping us like crazy high. I could work seven days a week nonstop and make a ton of money, but I don’t want to do that because there’s a chance that I could be infected at anytime. Amazon and Whole Foods, their workers are going on strike because they don’t feel safe in these conditions.

The thing is, the last time people tried to strike against Instacart, it backfired on us. We used to have this quality bonus—every time a customer gave you five stars you got an extra $3 on your order. So it was a big incentive for us to give really good service. But when that strike happened, they completely removed it. They said they were going to implement new ways for incentivizing us with promotions, but that didn’t happen until—honestly until the coronavirus started to come into effect. Promotions are like, if you work from noon to 5 p.m., every delivery you do in that span you get an extra $3 per delivery. They don’t care. It’s that simple. They know they can exploit us and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Sherrie Salazar: Lyft, Instacart, Postmates

I have always done the express rental program through Lyft and Hertz, but the rental is $250 a week, and I haven’t been making that the last two weeks. Ridership is down. Grocery shopping and food deliveries are through the roof, which is what’s saving us gig workers right now. I just started with Instacart and Postmates during the pandemic. Postmates isn’t a big tipper. Instacart is. My Postmates stuff has all been food delivery; I think maybe customers think they’re paying too much for their food so they’re not going to tip the driver. It’s like, we’re out here making sure you get it. And it’s still warm—or cold, or whatever it’s supposed to be.

I’m a high-risk [patient] if I were to get COVID-19. My heart functions at 74 percent. I have asthma. I have kidney disease. I’m pre-diabetic. I’m still doing my job. I’m being safe about it.

JL*: Lyft

I’m pretty sure I had or still have COVID-19, and I self-isolated the moment I started having symptoms. My children have had it as well. I immediately contacted Lyft to let them know that I would be returning my rental and isolating. I then contacted them to see what relief would be available to me. They indicated that without a positive test result, I get no help. But no one can get tested in Colorado unless they are admitted to the hospital or meet the criteria for high risk. I contacted my primary care physician, and they indicated they would not issue a request for a test because I do not meet the criteria.

I’m convinced Lyft knows that not many people can get tested so they made that a requirement for helping drivers, thus limiting their need to help drivers. This is a crock of shit. I have been driving full-time for Lyft for a year with over 3,900 rides. I would estimate Lyft has made in excess of $40,000 from me. Still, they can’t help me even though I did the right thing and stopped driving. 

Steve*: Amazon Flex

Amazon has said it’s hiring 100,000 workers both in warehouses and as flex drivers. I guess my perception is that they’re trying to bring in a lot of new drivers to increase the pool of people who are picking from available slots so Amazon can avoid surge pricing. My personal opinion is everything Amazon is going to do is going to be in its favor—which is going to decrease the amount it has to pay to do deliveries.

I can certainly understand why people are [striking]: It’s the low pay. It’s all these packages that are coming in from all different locations and you just don’t know if the virus is on any of them. How long can it survive on cardboard packages? With this coronavirus, I’m hoping it does compel some of these companies that are providing gig work to provide better [personal protective equipment]—not only for the drivers’ protection but also for the customers’ protection as well

Stephanie Ramsey: Uber, Lyft, Instacart

I’m not someone who has a savings account that I can fall back on. I’m grateful that I at least have something, because if I didn’t have [Instacart] I would be in a bad position. But yeah, I certainly feel forced into it. There’s not another option, really.

I don’t want this to wreck years of my life financially. I don’t want to get buried. I could stay at home and probably call all of the billing companies, and they would put it off for a little while but—yeah, I’d rather risk going out and getting sick than have to worry about my finances. Definitely.

At this point in time, my tips have been 50 percent and more of my overall earnings. If I was strictly relying on what Instacart is willing to pay me, this would not be worth it. It’s only worth it because there have been a lot of generous people.

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Workers

Startup Civvl recruits cash-strapped gig workers to help landlords evict tenants

Published

on

By

A startup is enlisting cash-strapped gig workers to help landlords evict tenants who can’t make rent during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Civvl has been posting Craigslist ads in cities across the country, including Denver, Los Angeles and Nashville, boasting pay as high as $125 an hour to individuals willing to work as process servers and promising that “there is plenty of work due to the dismal economy.”

“Unemployment is at a record high and many cannot or simply are not paying rent and mortgages,” the posting, which was first spotted by Vice, reads. “We are being contracted by frustrated property owners and banks to secure foreclosed residential properties.”

The listing calls for workers who are a minimum of 18 years old, and brags that it provides a “true flexible schedule” and a “minimal background check.” The average Civvl worker, the post says, completes six jobs a day.

Other open positions include clean out crews, eviction crews and independent contractors.

Civvl’s website featured a fake quote from The New York Times, Vice reported, claiming that “too many people stopped paying rent and mortgages thinking they would not be evicted.”

Civvl couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Source link

Continue Reading

Workers

Unemployment in Pennsylvania: Gig workers, independent contractors could see delayed benefit payments – News – poconorecord.com

Published

on

By

A surge in suspicious new claims filed late last week will stall payments to first-time applicants to a federal unemployment program for gig workers and independent contractors.

The unexplained increase in claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is believed to be part of an ongoing fraud scheme, Pennsylvania Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak said during a media update Monday.

The payout delay will not impact Pennsylvanians who are receiving payments through the other unemployment program programs. PUA beneficiaries with prior approved open claims also are not impacted.

On Thursday and Friday the number of new PUA claims filed in the state jumped to more than 20,000, four times higher than the average number of weekly new claims filed since the coronavirus pandemic began in the state.

Most of the new claims were from out-of-state, one of the hallmarks of the PUA fraud, which prompted officials to flag them for further investigation, Oleksiak said.

The department has met with its third-party vendor and authorities to develop stronger anti-fraud and identification verification methods, but there is no timeline for how long it will delay new claim payments, Oleksiak said.

“We will do it as quickly and effectively as possible,” he added. “We know the PUA program is a lifeline for many families, and we want these Pennsylvanians to be able to access support as quickly as possible during this time of hardship.”

More Coverage:: Unemployment in Pennsylvania: State approved for $2.8B loan for trust fund

Individuals who applied for PUA benefits for the first time on Thursday and Friday are affected by the delay, but officials have not ruled out double checking claims filed earlier in the week.

Unemployment officials suspect that criminals targeted the PUA program because it lacks safeguards that are in place for the state’s regular unemployment program.

PUA is the federally funded program created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that pays unemployment benefits to individuals who otherwise don’t qualify for state benefits because they are self-employed.

Claimants self-certify that they are unemployed as a result of the ongoing coronavirus, but they do not go through the same checks to prove they are qualified as claimants in the traditional unemployment program, Oleksiak said.

The biggest difference in the federal and the state-run unemployment programs involves the back-dating of claims, which was done to speed up delivery of benefits, said Susan Dickinson, director of the Office of Unemployment Benefits Policy.

The federal government ordered states to backdate everyone to the last day they worked without first verifying the information, which increased the potential for fraud, Dickinson said.

Pennsylvania is among other states where scammers began filing PUA claims under stolen identities using personal information taken through previous data breaches that occurred outside of state government. The scam started shortly after the PUA program opened.

Pennsylvania and other states implemented security measures to help identify and prevent payout for fraudulent claims including shutting down the automatic backdating in the PUA system.

The security measures reduced the overall number of PUA claims filed, until last week, Oleksiak said.

Federal and state authorities last month charged 33 people, including eight inmates in Pennsylvania prisons and Allegheny County jail with COVID-19 benefit fraud.

Pennsylvania officials recently found the names of an additional 10,000 state prison inmates on Pennsylvania’s unemployment rolls, though it’s unclear whether those people were aware that jobless claims had been filed on their behalf. The fraud was uncovered by U.S. postal inspectors, who noticed a large volume of mail arriving at homes that are abandoned or being sold.

California authorities announced they have arrested 44 people in Beverly Hills so far this month who were allegedly attempting to intercept fraudulently obtained debit cards obtained by using stolen identities. Many of those arrested were from out-of-state.

Also Monday, Oleksiak said Pennsylvania has already paid $1.5 billion of the $2.8 billion it received in federal Lost Wage Assistance program. The federal government is expected soon to announced an end-date for claims to be filed.

The program funded with disaster relief money through the Federal Emergency Management Agency provided $300 a week additional in unemployment compensation to eligible beneficiaries.

The temporary program closed on Sept. 5, but beneficiaries may still be eligible for a lump sum payment of up to six weeks or $1,800.

More Information: Unemployment in Pennsylvania: Not all eligible will get $300 federal benefit

Were you scammed?

Pennsylvanians who believe their identity was stolen and used to fraudulently apply for unemployment benefits can report the theft. Pennsylvanians who have received unemployment benefits they did not apply for should not use the funds and instead follow the directions on returning them.

This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: Unemployment in Pennsylvania: Gig workers, independent contractors could see delayed benefit payments

Source link

Continue Reading

Workers

Socso awareness amongst gig workers still low – New Straits Times

Published

on

By

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2019 Gigger.news.