National App-Based Work Alliance Will Advocate for Solutions That Preserve Worker Independence and Access to Benefits
Written By: Jackee White
Ever since I was 19 years old, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I liked the idea of being my own boss, setting my own hours, and being in charge of my own life – with nobody telling me otherwise. For 39 years, I was an independent hair stylist living my entrepreneurial dream.
However, over six years ago, I broke my ankle and found that I could no longer stay on my feet all day to do hair. I had to give up my 39-year passion, but I didn’t let that keep me down. I knew I needed to find something else that would help me keep my entrepreneurial spirit, while enabling me to look after my physical health. So I discovered Lyft and found out I could make income without having to be on my feet all day, all the while keeping that independence that drew me to hair styling.
Aside from the flexibility to earn income however I want, I’ve found a deep connection to the passengers I pick up every day. People go through a lot, and sometimes just having a conversation with them and hearing what they’re going through is amazing, and you can give them advice.
Another time, I met a woman who had just immigrated here with just $15 to her name, and she was struggling to get out of a bad relationship. That really struck home with me, because I’ve been down on my luck and in a tough relationship myself, so I offered her some encouragement based on my own lived experience. I actually ran into her a month later, and she said our conversation encouraged her to reconnect with her daughter and get back on her feet.
Those are just a few examples of how powerful this work really is. It’s a simple way for workers to earn income on their own time, while also having an unmatched ability to connect with people in their communities.
However, if Congress passes the PRO Act I will lose the ability to earn income in my own way. That’s because it contains something called an “ABC test” which would create a strict set of rules making it harder for workers like me to keep our independence.
That doesn’t work for me. For decades, I’ve valued being in charge of my own work life, and now that I have issues with my ankle, I absolutely need it. Not to mention, being classified as an “employee” goes against everything I’ve built my career on. I love being an entrepreneur because I can pursue success at my own pace – to be an employee, under strict supervision and management, would take away my freedom.
I understand that bills like the PRO Act are meant to help workers, but it simply does not take into account our lived experiences. I urge lawmakers who may be considering this bill, like Georgia’s new senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, to stand against the ABC test included in the PRO Act. For a lot of workers like me, it will take away the jobs we love and depend on.
Jackee White drives for Lyft in Atlanta, Georgia.