Massive gig companies haven’t paid a single dime to California‘s unemployment insurance (UI) fund, making it more difficult for workers to access UI benefits and depleting the fund of vital resources all workers need in this economic crisis

Gig companies are even denying the claims of workers who have filed for UI, delaying workers from getting checks they desperately need to pay rent, put food on the table and provide other basic necessities for their families.

California’s UI fund is severely stressed. Millions of new claims have come in since mid-March. While responsible employers have been funding UI to sustain it in times of crisis, Uber, Lyft, Instacart, Doordash and other gig companies refuse to comply with the law to pay their fair share for UI, putting all workers at grave risk.

“We need a sustainable UI fund now more than ever,” said California Labor Federation Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski in a statement in May. “We demand that gig companies comply with the law by immediately contributing to the state’s UI fund so their own workers – and all workers – can get the benefits they so desperately need to weather this crisis.”

Sadly, instead of ensuring that their employee drivers could access state benefits, Uber, Lyft, Postmates and Doordash, have stockpiled $110 million in a PAC account to fund a November 2020 ballot initiative aimed at denying drivers basic protections.

The measure would enable these companies to continue rig the rules in their favor, allowing them to shirk their responsibility to pay their fair share for unemployment insurance, Social Security, Medicare and other social safety net services.

Across the state, drivers are demanding that the companies immediately drop this harmful measure and use those millions to provide direct relief to workers.

In what workers claim is a public relations stunt, Uber and Lyft offered sick leave only for those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or were individually ordered to quarantine. Without employer-provided health care, and with the continued backlog of testing, this is little reassurance. What’s more, they can’t take paid time to care for a sick or quarantined family member.

Further, the gig companies refuse to provide drivers and shoppers still on the job with any equipment or supplies needed to keep them safe: no hand sanitizer, no disinfectant wipes, no masks. By refusing to take worker safety seriously, these companies put drivers and the public they are serving at grave risk.

The Labor Federation has joined drivers and shoppers to call on the gig companies to:

• Immediately follow the law of
the land – AB 5 – and classify gig
workers as employees so workers can
get the basic protections they desperately

• Provide 14 days of paid leave to
all drivers, shoppers and other gig
workers so they can have the flexibility
they need to care for themselves
and their families while not putting
the public at risk.

• Immediately pay their fair share
by contributing to the State’s unemployment
insurance fund, Social
Security and Medicare so that these
critical safety net programs are there
to support all workers.

• Provide personal protective
equipment and supplies to keep drivers

• Provide a clear protocol in case
of COVID-19 exposure, including
free COVID-19 screenings to all drivers/

• Immediately drop the deceptive
and harmful ballot measure that
denies workers basic protections like
a minimum wage, overtime pay and
safety equipment.