Uber and Airbnb are two dominant firms in the sharing economy. Like most businesses, they have witnessed a slump in operations since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out earlier this year.
However, as a recent report explained, these two firms are now lobbying members of U.S. Congress to extend the Fed’s stimulus packages to their independent contractors.
Calling Congressmen to Remember Us
As Bloomberg reported, Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s chief executive, has been making calls to lawmakers to ensure that his company’s core “employees” get a part of the government’s unemployment benefits.
Airbnb has also been in on the act. Citing people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg confirmed that Airbnb’s three co-founders have been in talks with several Congressmen to ensure that their landlords — who file taxes as sole proprietors — benefit from the bailout.
The founders have also reportedly urged their landlords to contact their Congressmen to ensure that unemployment protections get to them.
It’s easy to see how this virus has affected companies like Uber and Airbnb. Back at Uber’s HQ in California, almost everyone has been ordered by the state to work from home except for a few service providers. While Uber drivers are classified as “essential services” and can continue with work, the lack of customers has created a slump in orders.
A similar fate has befallen Airbnb. Recent data from analytics group Airdna shows that the firm’s revenues and bookings have plunged across the world. The Financial Times also reported earlier this month that the firm could postpone its planned IPO until the dust settles.
With the virus affecting their revenues, it’s logical that they search for novel ways to support their core operators at the least possible costs.
Not So Much of an Advocacy Move
Getting this done won’t be much of a problem for these firms. Like most shared economy companies, the bulk of the workforce generating the revenues for Uber and Airbnb is classified as “independent contractors” and not employees.
Despite providing the companies’ core services, their classification means that the companies aren’t liable for their unemployment benefits, healthcare costs, sick leave, and more.
They are left to fend for themselves due to this simple categorization. With the virus outbreak, many Uber drivers have been forced to sit at home in light of dwindling demand and the risk of infection. Uber responded to their concerns earlier this month. The tech giant promised to compensate drivers who can’t work or who are placed under mandatory quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [PYMNTS.com]
So far, Uber has struggled to hold its end of the bargain. Several Uber drivers who contracted coronavirus on the job have been unable to get any compensation from the company, Business Insider reports. Many of these drivers have had to resort to social media to get their voices heard.
Now, that the Senate has agreed to the stimulus package for the economy, Uber and Airbnb want a piece of the action and an opportunity to shirk their responsibilities to their workers again.