National App-Based Work Alliance Will Advocate for Solutions That Preserve Worker Independence and Access to Benefits
By Ayanna B.
My career as a chef came to an abrupt end after a car accident left me unable to work long hours or do heavy lifting. That also meant that I needed to find a new line of work that would give me a bit more control over exactly how many hours I was working each day and allow me the freedom to adjust based on how I am feeling physically.
That’s when I signed up to shop with Instacart. The flexibility meant that I can easily work whenever I am feeling good, and not worry about logging off if I need to rest. Even better, it lets me stay close to the food industry while being able to help and serve others, which was something I loved about being a chef.
It all comes back to flexibility, though. I’ve found that I’m a happier person with a flexible schedule since I don’t feel tied down. If I didn’t have that independence, it would be a lot harder to keep doing what I do since I need to be able to stop and rest from time to time. If I was forced to work hours that limited my ability to do that, I’d lose a big piece of what I love about this work. That may happen, however, if the Senate passes the PRO Act, which has already passed the House of Representatives.
Thanks to the bill’s severely limited definition of what makes someone an independent contractor, a lot of app-based workers like me fear that we would end up being classified as employees. Once that happens, we would lose much of the control we have over our schedules, and app-based workers would be forced to decide whether we want to continue without the freedom and flexibility that makes our work so attractive to so many people.
Like me, being able to keep your own hours is what brings a lot of people into app-based work to begin with, and could take away access to this work for many of us.
That's why I was surprised to learn that Sens. Warnock and Ossoff cosponsored the bill, instead of working to protect independent workers like me. If the bill passes and is signed into law, I fear it would change the way many people work, and app-based workers across the country may not be able to continue doing it at all.
Shopping for Instacart allowed me to pivot my career after my accident while still doing work that I love. I treat each delivery as if I’m shopping for my own family, and I love how it introduces me to so many new people in my community. It’s clear to me that what I’m doing matters to them, especially throughout the pandemic when many people needed to stay home as much as possible. I want to keep doing this because of those interactions, which make me feel like I’m helping people who truly need it.
The easiest way to help ensure that I can continue doing this work, as well as to make sure app-based workers everywhere aren’t forced out of work they love, is to stop the PRO Act from passing the Senate. Otherwise, app-based workers will be facing a new level of uncertainty as they figure out whether it’s still right for them. We need our lawmakers to listen to us and help keep that from happening.
Ayanna B. is an Instacart shopper from Fayetteville, Georgia.