Since 2017, 50+ app workers have reportedly been killed at work.
Workers of color and their families bear the brunt: over 60% of the killed workers were people of color.
Too many app corporations don't do enough to protect the workers who make their apps run.
Instead, the bedrock of their model is to offload risk onto workers.
Beginnings of a Safety Crisis
Corporations like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart have transformed transportation and meal delivery, but too many of them have done so by exploiting their workers on the job. Their growth-at-all-costs model has repeatedly failed to adequately address the most tragic human cost of their business: loss of life.
After a worker’s tragic death, the corporations for whom they worked often send ‘thoughts and prayers’ through news reporters, but do not consistently support families with basic protections like workers' compensation.
This behavior is consistent with too many app corporations' core business model: cutting costs by avoiding compensation and protection of their workers. App workers are shut out of safety net programs like workers compensation and, despite how dangerous the work is, too often workers are left on their own to figure out strategies to protect themselves.
When Gig Work Kills
The Murder of Lyft Driver Isabella Lewis
"My sister lost her life over a Lyft trip that totaled to be 15 dollars"
Isabella “Bella” Lewis, age 26, set out to pick up her first passenger of the day around noon on an August Sunday in Plano, Texas. During the trip, Isabella was shot in the side of the head and dragged out of her car. Her assailant then drove away in her vehicle, running over Isabella’s foot. According to Isabella’s sister, Allyssa, just ten minutes earlier, Lyft had matched Isabella with the passenger that would kill her.
Months have passed since Isabella’s murder, yet her family reports they have not heard from Lyft, who she drove with for three years.
Murder Is the Extreme, The Norm Is Exploitation
The numerous worker deaths detailed in the report represent the worst possible outcome from dangerous gig work, in other words, the extreme. Gig workers, however, also experience:
CARJACKINGS & BIKE THEFT
PHYSICAL HARASSMENT & ASSAULT
That this safety crisis is allowed to continue unabated is a function of too many corporations' business model--cutting costs by displacing cost and risk on to workers, and leaving families and workers on their own, even in the extreme case of workers being murdered on the job.
According to a recent Pew Research Center report, app workers of color are more likely than those who are white to say they have at least sometimes felt unsafe or been sexually harassed on the job.
Gig Corporations Demand Secrecy
The Carjacking of David Morrow
David Morrow, a 71-year-old part-time Uber driver based in Atlanta, Georgia, had to wait five months after being carjacked to receive a support offer from Uber. David was carjacked by two passengers who also took other valuables, resulting in thousands of dollars in damages. According to David, Uber approached him and offered $1,000 in exchange for signing a nondisclosure agreement committing him to staying silent and not filing a lawsuit against Uber. He refused.
App Executives Get Rich
Gig corporations have adopted policies and made decisions that limit or deny compensation when a worker is killed on the job.
DoorDash CEO, Tony Xu, took home $413.7 million in 2020. That’s 16,288 times what a DoorDash deliverer makes. DoorDash Chief Legal Counsel, Keith Yandell, took home $3.1 million in 2020.
Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, took home $12.3 million in 2020. That’s 553 times what an Uber driver makes in a year. Uber Chief Legal Counsel, Tony West, also took home $12.3 million. Jill Hazelbaker, who oversees policy and communications at Uber, took home a whopping $12.6 million dollars.
Former Grubhub CEO and co-founder, Matthew Maloney, made $8.3 million in 2020. That’s 327 times what a Grubhub deliverer makes. Then Grubhub President and CFO, and now current CEO, Adam DeWitt, made $5.5 million last year. Grubhub Chief Legal Officer Margo Drucker made $2 million in 2020.
Lyft CEO, Logan Green, took home $1 million in 2020. He owns approximately $700 million worth of Lyft shares. Lyft President, John Zimmer, took home $2.5 million last year. Lyft Chief Legal Counsel, Kristin Sverchek, took home $3.1 million in 2020. That’s 129 times what a Lyft driver makes in a year.
Workers demand policymakers require corporations to ensure that injured or murdered workers and families receive workers’ compensation to make them whole. Policymakers should also push app corporations to compensate all impacted workers and families retroactively.
2. No forced arbitration
App corporations require workers to sign arbitration agreements, leaving individual workers and their families to fight on their own against billion dollar corporations when something happens - all in secret. Workers demand policy makers prevent corporations from forcing workers to sign these arbitration clauses and ensure that platform workers have the right to access the full protection of our court system.
Workers demand that policy makers ensure that every app corporation with operations in the US publicly report data about injuries and deaths on the job each year. Workers are also demanding policy makers force corporations to share data that includes information about the worker’s race, ethnicity, and gender, for each of the following incidents:
Motor vehicle fatalities
Motor vehicle injuries
Fatal physical assault
Non-fatal physical assault
Information on the injury or death compensation paid out to workers, or their families
4. A union
App workers know that corporations can do more to keep workers safe. App workers also know best what they need in order to be and to feel safe at work. Workers should have the freedom to organize, and to form independent worker organizations like a union, which would give workers the power to collectively bargain with corporations and establish policies that make this work safer.
Dedication & In Memoriam
We honor and stand in solidarity with all app-based workers who work tirelessly with little to no protections or benefits to transport and feed us. We pay tribute to gig workers who have lost their lives while working, including many who have been murdered on the job while working for a gig corporation. We offer our condolences to their families and loved ones.
Abdul Rauf Khan
Ahmad Fawad Yusufi
Cherno “Che” Ceesay
Dhulfiqar Kareem Mseer
Francisco Villalva Vitinio
Kelley Marie Smith
Lamar Jerome French
Marlo Medina Chevez
Raquel Spohn Wehber
Ryan Munsie Graham
San Francisco, CA
Oxon Hill, MD
New Orleans, LA
King County, WA
St. Louis, MO
Okaloosa Island, FL
Chester County, VA
Crown Point, IN
Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth, TX
Los Angeles, CA
San Diego, CA
Los Angeles, CA
Cherry Log, GA
Haltom City, TX
Walnut Creek, CA
For each case in the list above of gig workers who have lost their lives since 2017, a connection between the worker and the listed gig corporation has been reported by news sources and, in some cases, police records, legal filings and family members’ accounts.