[To a steady beat of whistles, car horns and “AB5 and a
union!” hundreds of rideshare drivers amassed outside Uber’s
corporate headquarters in San Fransisco on Wednesday. ]
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 PORTSIDE LABOR 

 JOINED BY PETE BUTTIGIEG, DRIVERS BLOCKADE ROADWAY OUTSIDE UBER
HEADQUARTERS   [https://portside.org/node/20849] 

 

 Bryan Menegus 
 August 28, 2019
GIZMODO 

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 _ To a steady beat of whistles, car horns and “AB5 and a union!”
hundreds of rideshare drivers amassed outside Uber’s corporate
headquarters in San Fransisco on Wednesday. _ 

 , 

 

 [https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/t_original/mjr1xe6bqzzyalywvdwy.png]Screenshot: Mobile
Workers Alliance
[https://twitter.com/mobile_alliance/status/1166434901446447104]

To a steady beat of whistles, car horns and “AB5 and a union!”
hundreds of rideshare drivers amassed outside Uber’s corporate
headquarters in San Fransisco on Wednesday. For over an hour, Market
Street slowed to a crawl, choked by the cars of for-hire vehicle
drivers.

The Market Street shutdown is just the latest stop in a three-day
protest caravan across California in the U.S. advocating for the
passage of the aforementioned Assembly Bill 5. Introduced by U.S.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez in January, AB5 is seen by proponents as
a kill-shot against the gig economy practice of classifying workers as
independent contractors. It’s a convenient arrangement for companies
like Uber and Lyft, which don’t have to provide benefits like health
insurance and overtime pay, while passing fuel and vehicle wear costs
onto drivers themselves. 

_EDITOR'S NOTE:__ While AB5 is a proposed American bill, the outcome
of its passing may have an impact on the gig economy in Australia, and
the push for more protection for independent contractors._

In a true contractor relationship, workers have a considerable degree
of autonomy over the work they provide. But as California’s Supreme
Court and AB5 argue, the evidence gig workers possess this freedom —
when platforms essentially dictate when and how they perform their
work, and have the ability to fire them through deactivation at any
time for any reason — is sorely lacking.

Almost immediately at noon Pacific time, when Wednesday's action was
set to begin, Google Maps listed the area surrounding Uber HQ as
having heavy traffic. And while cars waving baby blue Mobile Workers
Alliance flags from their windows circled the block, a massive crowd
gathered in front of Uber’s office at 1455 Market Street. 

Different faces took turns behind the microphone, but the soundbites
were the same as any other rally of this kind around the country. “I
cannot estimate my income, other than the fact that it constantly goes
down,” a driver named Adan told the crowd. “One accident, one
serious illness is all it would take to ruin my life and my ability to
provide for my son.”

Joining these workers was South Bend mayor and U.S. Democratic nominee
hopeful Pete Buttigieg. “Where I come from ‘gig’ is another word
for job,” Mayor Pete said in front of the rideshare giant’s front
door. “That means you deserve a minimum wage. That means you deserve
protections from workplace and sexual harassment. That means you
deserve overtime protections. And yes that means you deserve a
union,” the mayor assured drivers. 

The speech, of course, comes at a time when other U.S. Democratic
presidential candidates are working to court the votes of unions
across the country, with Sanders by far rolling out the most
expansively pro-labour plan. In recent polls Buttigieg has sunk
[https://splinternews.com/polls-are-bad-but-finally-we-found-one-that-is-good-1837585488] to
a distant sixth place among the crowded Democratic field. 

The caravan is timed around an important vote this week in the U.S.,
where AB5, which already cleared California’s House of
Representatives in July, will come before the state’s Senate
Appropriations Committee. If successful, it will still require one
more vote in the state senate to pass, though momentum appears to be
building broadly against technology companies which have grown rich
during the current period of deepening inequality in the country and
others around the world.

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