Joe Biden has been president for under 4 months, however he’s already been hailed because the nation’s most pro-labor chief since Franklin Delano Roosevelt confirmed up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He desires to make it simpler for employees to unionize and would elevate the nationwide minimal wage to $15. He opposed Proposition 22, the California poll measure that allowed gig platforms like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash to proceed treating their employees as impartial contractors. In March, he backed the (doomed) union drive in a Bessemer, Alabama, Amazon warehouse. “Unions put power in the hands of workers,” he stated then. “They level the playing field.”
Tuesday, although, Biden pissed off some employee advocates when he introduced a take care of the ride-hail firms Uber and Lyft to get extra Americans to vaccination websites—regardless of his unease with their enterprise mannequin. The program, to start out on May 24, will level customers on the apps to close by vaccination websites and can cowl $15 rides in both course. Lyft says that, based mostly on earlier rides to vaccination websites, it expects the quantity to cowl “most, if not all” of fares to and from the websites.
Biden, it seems, has different priorities, and a self-imposed deadline: He desires Americans to really feel secure attending regular(ish) Fourth of July barbecues. The White House has set a purpose of getting 70 p.c of US adults a minimum of one Covid-19 shot by the summer season vacation. At this level 59 p.c of Americans have obtained a minimum of one dose of vaccine, in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The vaccine is the key to getting us all moving again, and we’re proud to do our part to move the country forward,” John Zimmer, the cofounder and president of Lyft, said in a statement. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi called the partnership a “proud moment for me, for Uber, and for our country.”
But labor activists said Tuesday the deal put the White House at odds with some of its leaders’ stated principles. “If this is something that this administration has OK’d, it does not bode well for what we will see in terms of enforcement actions,” says Veena Dubal, a professor of labor law at the UC Hastings College of the Law.
So far, the Democratic administration has signaled support, tepidly, for changing the rules on worker classification. Today, all states allow companies like Uber and Lyft to treat their drivers and delivery people as independent contractors, who can sign in to work on the app any time but are not entitled to traditional benefits like health care insurance and workers’ compensation. Last week, labor secretary Marty Walsh told Reuters, “In a lot of cases, gig workers should be classified as employees.” He nominated David Weil, a former Obama appointee and Uber critic, to head the department’s Wage and Hour Division. The Labor Department last week also repealed a Trump administration rule that labor advocates had feared would be used to maintain gig workers’ independent contractor status. The department did not respond to a request for comment.
The CDC has pinpointed lack of transportation as a factor in preventing people, and especially vulnerable populations, from getting the vaccine. After listening sessions with local groups and agencies held earlier this year, the agency recommended governments work with community and faith-based organizations, Medicaid and Medicare programs, transportation companies, and ride-hail services to get more shots into arms. A number of cities, states, and transit agencies already offer free transportation programs to vaccination sites.