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Ridesharing is the Path to Wealth

Beyond the Rhetoric

Harry C. Alford | 7/14/2020, 11:44 a.m.

For many decades, the alternatives to private travel were taxi cabs, public trains and busing. As we entered the 21st century a new mode of travel presented itself to the public. It was ridesharing. This concept was entrepreneurial from its roots. A person would prepare his own car for travel at a reasonable fee. The process would be high technology which would offer many advantages over traditional trains and taxis.

There was much debate on who the eventual winner would be. I reached my conclusion during a trip to Chicago. We lined up to take a taxi to O’Hare Airport. The estimated wait would be 30 minutes. Impatient, I decided to try out my new Uber service. In just 6 minutes my Suburban Sedan was there to pick us up and hurried us to the airport. The debate was over as far as I was concerned. We have been rideshare customers ever since.

There is more than just convenience when it comes to rideshare. Rideshare operators are true entrepreneurs. As leaders of the largest Black business association in the world it is important that we practice what we preach – capitalism/entrepreneurship.

Over the years there have been legislative battles between the taxi industry and the rising rideshare component. Today, in California there is a pitch battle between the two camps. For obvious reasons, the National Black Chamber of Commerce supports the rideshare component such as Lyft, Uber, Door Dash, etc. The alternative is basically working for somebody, i.e. employment rather than ownership.

We are being threatened with Assembly Bill 5 (AB5). This threatens to take away the right of Californians to work as independent contractors with flexible schedules with app-based platforms to become employees with flat wages and set schedules. An employee model would also greatly limit the availability of these services, resulting in lost work opportunities and reduced access to rideshare and delivery services that many minority communities have grown to rely on.

The solution would be the Protect App-Based Drivers & Services Act. It would maintain access to flexible work opportunities for low incomes individuals by protecting their right to work as independent contractors with flexible schedules with app-based rideshare and delivery platforms.

It would also provide economic stability through a minimum earnings guarantee of at least 120 percent of minimum wage and 30 cents per mile compensation toward expenses, with no limits on how much drivers can make.

Providing a contribution toward health care coverage starting for those who drive just 15 hours a week. Drivers who work 25 hours per week or more earn a health care payment that covers 100 percent of the average employer contribution toward a Covered California Plan or about $367 per month.

Providing other benefits and protections including occupational accident insurance to cover on the job injuries, automobile accident and liability insurance, and protection against discrimination.

It would implement new safety protections for consumers and the public, including providing for recurring background checks of drivers, mandatory safety training, criminalizing impersonating an app-based drivers, zero tolerance for drug and alcohol use, and banning drivers convicted of hate crimes and other serious felonies and offenses.