Driver Impact

Some states have tried to force workers into rules and regulations that deny them the flexibility they need. From enforcing surge caps to pushing for drivers to be classified as full-time employees, gig work is being threatened. Now, they’re trying to do that in Illinois too, without really listening to what independent workers actually want.

Currently, thousands of drivers rely on independent work for earning opportunities while they are in school, parenting, working other jobs, tending to family matters, or maintaining supplemental earnings for other reasons.

Independent work is even more important during the pandemic when traditional unemployment has skyrocketed and many are turning to app-based and self-employed work. It’s critical we protect these independent, flexible jobs.

If legislators mandate old-school rules and regulations for independent workers, thousands of drivers in Illinois will lose their jobs in the midst of the economic downturn.

A recent ALG poll shows that drivers want flexibility, independence, and a new approach to app-based work.

Industry Facts

  • The vast majority of app-based independent workers choose to work under 20 hours per week.
  • Many of these app-based drivers would lose their jobs if the law required all drivers to be classified as employees.
  • For those who remain independent, the companies could have to start treating them like every other business with employees. That means dictated shifts, capped income, and no innovative perks like instant pay.
  • In independent polling, 82% of respondents said that they would rather be considered an “independent contractor” than an employee. On top of that, 90% said being an independent contractor is a “good arrangement” for them in their lifestyle.
  • Last year, Californians voted overwhelmingly to protect independent workers with flexibility and benefits, rather than being made to choose between the two.
  • Over 120,000 drivers joined the NAACP, Urban League, public safety groups, and advocates for seniors and the differently-abled to advocate for what drivers wanted — independence and access to historic new benefits and protections.
  • Forcing a standard employee model will reduce the driver workforce, thus making it more expensive for Chicagoans to use ridesharing and delivery services.
  • A move to cut the workforce will particularly impact access for nurses, first responders, grocery store workers, and other essential workers who are using ridesharing services today.
  • Disrupting the delivery services for restaurants, local grocers, and other small businesses would reduce one of their last remaining revenue streams as the pandemic continues on.

Drivers Want Protection and Independence

72%: Democrats who support changes that allow them to remain independent contractors and receive supplemental benefits such as health care and paid leave.
70%: Current Union members who are supportive of this new approach – vs. 42% who support reclassifying drivers as employees.
81%: Black and Latinx voters support the hybrid approach of independence + benefits.

Drivers Are Satisfied with Flexible Hours and Their Earnings

49%: Drivers working less than 9 hours per week
38%: Drivers working less than 29 hours per week.
86%: Drivers who report not relying on driving as their primary source of income
75%: Drivers who report being satisfied with their job and financial situation.
3%: Drivers in Illinois who do not have health insurance.

Earnings Regulation and Surge Cap Could Harm Drivers

  • Today, median earnings for drivers in Chicago are up to $35/hr*, and that’s before tips.
  • Adding additional wage and app usage requirements could lead to a loss of earning opportunities and flexibility, while increasing costs for riders.
  • When New York imposed an ordinance regulating driver wages, Lyft alone was forced to cut 10,000 drivers from its app.
  • These restrictions also reduced by 70% the number of female drivers on the platform as they eliminated the flexibility these drivers needed.
  • When Seattle tried something similar, costs for riders went up 40%.
    • *As of July 2021

Consumer and Community Impact

Residents and businesses rely on the on-demand economy as well. Rideshare, grocery, and meal deliveries help people who don’t have access to personal transportation or reliable, easy public transit. Delivery apps help restaurants expand their reach, especially during a pandemic that is keeping their dining room closed.

Communities of color lose first

The South and West sides of Chicago have been historically underinvested, which, among other obstacles, gives residents of these communities less access to transit and food options. The taxi industry ignored these communities, but today, low-income residents on the South and West side are among the biggest users of ridesharing. Expanding the reach of restaurants and grocery delivery can make a significant impact towards eliminating urban food deserts.

If companies are forced to operate under the old rules, they will need to put drivers on shifts when and where demand is highest – but that could lead to downtown and the North Side neighborhoods getting more service at the expense of the South and West Sides.