National App-Based Work Alliance Will Advocate for Solutions That Preserve Worker Independence and Access to Benefits
Written By: Jean-Eli G.
When I bought my house a few years ago, my commute to work ballooned to be more than an hour long. Over time, it grew more and more cumbersome, and I wasn’t excited to go to work at all. Eventually, I realized I needed a change that would get rid of the long commute and make it easier to be my own boss and set my own schedule.
That’s when I learned about app-based work. I started driving with Uber and making deliveries through Uber and DoorDash, and I absolutely love the flexibility it gives me. It takes away the stress I was feeling having to make a long commute to report at exactly 9 am every day, and I’m free to work while still living my life. I’m allowed to put myself on pause, so if I need to go to the doctor or take a break to grab groceries, I can do that without a problem.
Having that flexibility has even let me pursue a new career path. While I am driving and delivering full-time right now, being able to make my own schedule meant I could go to classes and work toward receiving my real estate license. When we had in-person classes, I could simply log off and head in. Once the pandemic hit and classes were fully remote, I could shift my schedule without needing to ask a manager for permission. Now that I’ve got my license, I can take some time each day to make the connections I need in order to build my real estate career. The flexibility is an absolutely essential part of the work for me, and I wouldn’t be able to continue driving or making deliveries without it.
I also love doing app-based work because of the opportunities it offers to meet new people and connect with the community. You never know what each day will bring and what conversations you’ll have. Sometimes I am taking an older individual who can’t drive to a doctor’s appointment, or bringing food to someone who’s unable to go out on their own right now for health reasons. It makes me feel like I’m helping out my community, and every ride or delivery is a new chance to be a good-natured person and put some cheer into someone’s life when they need it. Sometimes, it’s as simple as making sure that the kid’s meal I’m delivering has the right toys that will make a family’s day.
What worries me, though, is when I read about lawmakers trying to take away what I and so many other app-based workers love. The PRO Act, which recently passed the House of Representatives and is now up in the Senate, uses an “ABC test” that would force a lot of independent contractors like me to be reclassified as full-fledged employees. They say it’s meant to help workers, but instead it would force us into strict schedules and eliminate the reason we do this sort of work in the first place: independence.
Lawmakers shouldn’t just pass this bill without taking us workers into account. If they listened to us, they would realize this ABC test and bills like it hurt workers more than they help us, and take away our freedom to make our own schedules.
You can try to plan out every minute and be the most structured person in the whole world, but there are always unexpected hiccups in life. What makes app-based work great is that those unexpected bumps don’t become massive hurdles, because you can work your schedule around them. The PRO Act would take that away, and the Senate needs to realize passing it would just hurt those of us who rely on these jobs.
Jean-Eli G. is an Uber Driver and Dasher from Florida.