It feels a bit Alice in Silicon Valleyland, but the good news for Uber this week was that it lost $1.2bn in the third quarter of 2019. While burning that kind of cash in 90 days would make even WeWork’s Adam Neumann blush, it is an improvement over the previous quarter’s jaw-dropping deficit of $5.24bn.
Los Angeles international airport (LAX) has apologized for “unacceptable” wait times after a new policy banning Uber and Lyft from picking up passengers at the curb led to major traffic jams and delays.
The new system at the country’s second-busiest airport requires travelers to take a shuttle to a separate area to meet their rideshare drivers, and a bumpy rollout on Tuesday resulted in gridlock and overcrowded shuttles, as well as some passengers waiting more than an hour for their rides.
Have you ever taken a ride using the Lyft app? There’s a chance I drove you.
I’ve worked in the gig economy for over four years, mostly as a Lyft driver. I started driving to make money during my hour-long commute to work. When I lost my full time job, Lyft became my primary source of income.
This week, California’s governor, Gavin Newsom – a darling of tech capitalists – signed Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) into law. The bill codifies the “ABC test” to determine the applicability of California employment laws and makes it harder for companies to get away with misclassifying workers as independent contractors. If properly enforced, AB5 will have enormous impacts for vulnerable workers in the trucking, janitorial and construction industries.
California is one of the few economies large enough to set the rules in a globalised world. The state’s initiatives on car safety and emissions have in the past set an example that was followed by car manufacturers everywhere. In a less beneficial way, California was also the birthplace of the gig economy, and the widespread use of webs of casual labour tied together by algorithms to subvert labour laws and other regulations in all sorts of fields, ranging from taxi firms to B&Bs. So it’s an important development that the state’s senate has now turned decisively against the exploitation of casual workers. This week it passed a law that would reclassify many of the so-called independent contractors who work in the gig economy as employees, entitled to a minimum wage, paid parental leave and unemployment insurance.
Groundbreaking legislation passed by California lawmakers on Wednesday has been lauded for its potential to transform the way tech companies such as Uber and Lyft treat their drivers – but those aren’t the only workers who stand to benefit.
The bill, known as AB5, will go into effect in January 2020. It sets a three-part standard for determining whether workers are properly classified as independent contractors, requiring that (a) they are free from the company’s control, (b) they are doing work that isn’t central to the company’s business and (c) they have an independent business in that industry.