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Gig app jobs, like Uber, far from entirely safe

By Lee Cleveland - May 3, 2023

A recent report by the advocacy group Gig Workers Rising (GWR) has shed light on the alarming number of gig workers who were murdered on the job in 2022. The report found that 31 gig workers were killed while working app-based gigs, with the vast majority of those being rideshare drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft.

This is not a new issue.

GWR released its first-ever report last year, which found that between 2017 and early 2022, over 50 gig workers had been killed at work. The updated report now puts that number closer to 80. Moreover, the report reveals that 78 percent of the workers murdered while working app-based gigs were people of color.

The workers were killed on their way to pick up a passenger or delivery, during the duration of a ride or delivery, or immediately after a ride or delivery, including on their way home. Although most of the workers were not murdered by a passenger, those who were, were, again, mostly people of color.

The report highlights the regressive nature of labor policy with regard to app-based gig work. Earlier this year, a California appeals court upheld the unpopular Proposition 22 ballot proposal from 2020, which allows companies to classify rideshare drivers as independent contractors and exempt them from the basic protections enjoyed by regular employees. These exemptions mean that gig workers are exempt from basic protections like minimum wage requirements, healthcare, and safety standards that other employees are entitled to.

The report notes that in nearly every state, app corporations are not required to report instances of violence, assault, workplace injury, or homicides to government agencies. This means that the actual number of people killed on app-based gigs is probably higher than what has been reported.

It’s crucial that labor policies catch up with the changing nature of work in the gig economy. The safety and protection of gig workers should be a top priority. Until labor laws are updated and app corporations are held accountable for the safety of their workers, this trend of gig workers being killed on the job is likely to continue.