The Senate's historic $ 2 trillion stimulus package will make history in another way: through financial support from gig workers.
Late last night, the Senate adopted a $ 2 trillion stimulus package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gig workers could apply for unemployment benefits as part of the bill coming to the House this week. In addition, the bill would grant unemployed workers $ 600 a week in federal aid for up to four months.
This is good news for gig workers who have fought for companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash to provide them with merit. California already has a law that offers gig worker benefits, but companies have so far chosen not to abide by it. In addition, companies like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart support an election initiative that would allow them to keep their employees as independent contractors. The basic principle of these companies is that the gig worker protection law in California, which describes what makes someone an employee to an independent contractor, does not apply to their companies.
Earlier this week, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to include gig workers. Khosrowshahi also argued that there must be a third gig worker classification that would “update our labor laws to remove the forced choice between flexibility and protection for millions of American workers.
"I am grateful that the US Senate has ensured that drivers and deliverers ̵
What Khosrowshahi says about workers facing extraordinary economic challenges and facing the crisis is true, but does not take into account that Uber could offer benefits to drivers and delivery agents without the help of the United States government. In addition to unemployment benefits, gig workers have organized for better pay, disability insurance and the right to form a union.
The economic law was passed unanimously with 96: 0 after days of deliberation in the Senate. The cooperative vote signals the country's urgent need for financial aid, as political leaders from both parties are working towards a quick, imperfect bill that would provide quick relief to Americans and the economy as a whole, instead of plunging into a lengthy political back and forth details of the package.
While speed is the key to the success of efforts, some critics of the bill are wary of repeating mistakes made during the 2008 financial crisis when a massive federal bailout saved big business and finances while the average American struggled had to recover the next decade. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders expressed this comparison on Wednesday evening in the Senate, but ultimately voted to approve the measure and transfer it to the House of Representatives.
On Wednesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) reported her own objections to the stimulus package. If the house cannot agree unanimously to pass the law, lawmakers currently in their home states during the break could return to Washington to cast a taped vote and work out the remaining details of the bill.
"With the health risks of traveling, there is no easy choice here," Ocasio-Cortez told CNN. "But important workers show up every day and put their health at risk. If the final text of a bill is set to violate it, we may have to do it."