Uber and Airbnb Lobby for Gig Worker Bailout

Uber Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi has been making pleading phone calls to members of Congress. Khosrowshahi is asking for a bailout, not for his company, which has told investors it should have at least US$4 billion in cash by the end of the year—but for its idle drivers, reported Yahoo

Uber Technologies and Airbnb, the leaders of the so-called sharing economy, are suffering during the Covid-19 shutdown, but not in the same way as traditional travel companies like airlines or hotel chains. They’ve built their business models on offloading as many costs and as much risk as possible to their suppliers. Uber doesn’t have to pay salaries for drivers with little or nothing to do. Now it’s those Uber drivers, as well as Airbnb’s hosts, who have to worry about paying for cars and houses that are not generating income as they depreciate in value.

The companies are hardly immune to the fallout from the pandemic. Uber has lost about 20% of its market value since the end of trading on February 26, and Airbnb’s board considered revising its plan to go public at a recent meeting. But executives from both companies have focused on drivers and hosts when working the phones to secure some government relief. Uber also sent a letter to the White House and congressional leadership. Airbnb penned a letter of its own advocating for hosts.

After an early morning agreement, the massive bailout bill Congress is working seems set to extend unemployment benefits to independent contractors and sole proprietorships, bringing relief even to workers for platforms that haven’t been paying for unemployment insurance. In a letter to colleagues Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote that the bill “ensures that all workers are protected whether they work for businesses small, medium or large, along with self-employed and workers in the gig economy.”

Full Content: Yahoo

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