Black gig workers are calling out the empty gestures of solidarity and support from the companies they drive, deliver, and work for as so-called independent contractors as the Black Lives Matter movement gains momentum across the U.S.
In an open letter from Black workers affiliated with the group Gig Workers Rising to the heads of Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates, Instacart and others, the gig workers flagged how actions like Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s announcement about Juneteenth (June 19) as a paid day off for corporate workers dismisses the very people the companies purport to support.
In the letter written by Lyft driver Cherri Murphy in Oakland, California, she laid out out how Black and brown gig workers are exploited, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, for the benefit of company executives and fulltime employees.
“This fight is not only about police killings and terror — it is about every institution that exploits and abuses Black and brown people in this country,” the letter reads. “When it comes to exploiting Black and brown people, you and your companies are experts.”
She called for something tangible for the community, “If you are committed to Black and brown lives — prove it.” The letter continues with demands for the right to organize, for a living wage, and benefits. For Juneteenth, gig workers don’t have the option to take off a day to “stand up against racism” without sacrificing wages. Lyft is also observing the day as a company holiday — but not for drivers. The company is hosting a public online panel.
To embrace the meaning of #Juneteenth this year, we’re making it a paid day off. We encourage employees to spend it in a way that allows them to stand up against racism, whether that’s by learning, participating in a community action, or reflecting on how to make change. (1/3)
— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) June 17, 2020
This comes after weeks of platitudes and tweets coming from tech CEOs, and now we’re starting to see some action. But even that’s falling short.