By Elizabeth Clews
As a single mom to two young boys in Oxnard, there are plenty of things I worry about, especially during this pandemic. I worry about finding stable, long-term housing, so we don’t have to crash with my friend anymore. I worry about finishing my college degree, so I can fulfill my dream of being a history teacher. And, like so many parents navigating remote learning, I worry about making sure my six-year-old finishes his homework assignments.
Here are some things I don’t worry about: If I’m too overwhelmed with childcare or coursework, I don’t have to worry about showing up late to work, asking my manager for time off, or finding someone to cover my shift. When the pandemic struck a year ago, I lost my job as a server at a hockey rink. Since then, I’ve been delivering with DoorDash (and, on occasion, GrubHub) and it’s been an absolute lifeline. Many nights, after I put my boys to bed and get my friend to babysit, I turn on the app, hop in my car, and begin earning money.
I’m in control of when, where, and for how long I work — my independence and flexibility are entirely in my own hands. Thanks to the overwhelming passage of Proposition 22 last November, I feel more empowered to provide for my family than ever before.
Prop. 22 was a response to Assembly Bill 5, legislation from out-of-touch politicians in Sacramento that could have forced app-based drivers like me to be an employee instead of an independent contractor. That could have led to depriving hundreds of thousands of us of a way to make additional income.
The Sacramento politicians who attempted to push through AB5, and who opposed Prop. 22, have been overwhelmingly rebuffed by app-based drivers and the voters who elected them to office.
Despite this, they still think they know what’s best for drivers like me, introducing bills that will hurt drivers. Their newest bill is AB 286, legislation that amounts to a hidden tax on Californians who use app-based restaurant delivery services. This would hurt restaurants, drive down demand from customers, and decrease my ability to earn. I can’t afford to lose my income especially when my boys depend on me.
App-based delivery services have allowed many restaurants to survive the pandemic and will continue to be important even after the pandemic fades away and our economy opens up. I know, I talk with the front-line workers at restaurants nearly every day when I pick up deliveries. And, it’s especially important for smaller, independent restaurants. Larger chains can afford more marketing and their own delivery services, but app-based delivery helps “mom and pop” restaurants compete and find new customers.
I like and need the flexibility that comes with being an independent contractor. Recently, for example, I stopped delivering for two weeks to spend time with my boys and prepare for an exam. When the two weeks passed, I could open up the app and pick up delivery work again. No full-time job with set hours and shifts would have afforded me this flexibility.
I’m thankful that voters stood with drivers like me when they passed Prop. 22 to preserve our flexibility. I want Sacramento politicians to stop attacking app-based drivers’ ability to earn and start respecting the will of the voters.
Elizabeth Clews is a driver with DoorDash.