Rideshare and delivery drivers demand better wages and working conditions, join the national movement

David Crane keeps a yellow legal pad in his car, pages and pages filled with his thoughts on the concerns of thousands of other rideshare drivers like himself, with demands that boil down to better wages, safer working conditions and rights. unions.

“We deserve what is right. We deserve better pay for the amount of time we spend away from home. We deserve to have living wages and we are not getting them,” Crane said.

At a press conference Sunday afternoon, Illinois rideshare drivers and delivery drivers from Uber, Lyft, Grubhub and DoorDash announced that different local groups, numbering 20,000 members, are joining a national movement led by Justice for App Workers.

“This is a roller coaster of work. Any day we go out, we don’t know what we are going to face. We could go out and it could be a good day where earnings are strong and customers are nice,” said Lenny Sanchez of JFAW and the Independent Drivers Guild of Illinois.

“But at the same time, we’re always thinking about the potential of having an unruly, dissatisfied customer make an unfair claim on us. And with an algorithm that is our boss, that sometimes means that our position as a worker is terminated and our means of supporting our families are completely taken away from us,” Sánchez said.

Sánchez spoke in front of a banner bearing the coalition’s logo: a raised fist holding a cell phone, the word “justice” written in 11 different languages ​​in a circle around it. JFAW originated six months ago in New York with 100,000 workers, and Sunday’s announcement marked the expansion of the movement in the Midwest.

“This is a movement that we are trying to nationalize. We start with Chicago. We hope that the next step will be other cities, and we invite everyone to join, to be part of this,” said Adalgisa Payero-Diarra of JFAW New York. “So let’s keep the movement going and the momentum going.”

As Chicago rideshare and delivery drivers grapple with rising gas prices, inflation and workplace hazards, app-based workers are fighting for six specific demands their companies must meet: living wages, safer work environments, an end to unfair account deactivation, quality healthcare and mental health benefits, access to bathrooms at work, and the right to form a union.

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Desiree Gillespi quit being a rideshare and delivery driver five months ago. She said that, among other things, she was exposed to constant sexual harassment from customers and that Uber did nothing more than send her a generic message in response to her complaints.

“It’s really unfortunate that we give everything, we go out just to try to make a living for our families, and we don’t get much back,” Gillespi said. “So, I am proud to be part of the Justice for App Workers coalition because we are so much stronger together. We can’t do this alone. We have to unite and we have to unionize.”

The JFAW Illinois coalition includes seven organizations: Road Warriors Chicago, Illinois Independent Drivers Guild, Latinos Unidos Uber/Lyft, SOS Uber y Lyft, Rideshare Revolutionaries, Chicago Uber and Lyft Drivers, and Chicago Stolen Car Directory. Many members of the different groups organized through Facebook, as did the first coalition in New York.

“Hopefully Uber and Lyft treat us better, like humans, because sometimes we feel like they don’t treat us like humans,” said Manny Levya, a full-time Uber driver and member of SOS Uber and Lyft. the Tribune. “They don’t care about us every time something happens to us, many times instead of fighting for us, they actually disable us.”

The press conference was reserved for a day of rest and respite for app workers at Schiller Park’s Grove 10, complete with bounce houses for kids, food trucks for families and music.

“I like to tell people that this may be a simple job, but it’s not always an easy job. And I see this as taking care of people for a living,” Crane said, looking out at the people gathered on a cloudy Sunday afternoon. “We should definitely be treated much better than we are being treated now.”

adperez@chicagotribune.com

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