Apps earnings

Killings of US gig workers expose app security flaws, task force says

* App-based gig workers are often targeted by criminals * Companies must do more on safety and compensation, say advocates

* Platforms say they prioritize driver safety By Avi Asher-Schapiro

LOS ANGELES, April 6 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Two years after fleeing political persecution in Bangladesh, Salauddin Bablu was stabbed to death in Manhattan by a man who stole the electric bicycle he used to deliver food during long working hours for grubhub app. “When Salauddin died, his family lost everything,” Bablu’s brother-in-law Muhammad Ahsan said by phone from New York, adding that Bablu used to send half of his earnings to his wife and to her children in Bangladesh.

Bablu’s 2021 murder is one of more than 50 documented in a report released Wednesday by California-based task force Gig Workers Rising, which says app companies need to do more to protect drivers from crime when they work in the street. The group tracked the murders of gig workers from 2017 using information such as news reports and families’ GoFundMe pages and found that more than 60% of the victims were, like Bablu, people of color, many of whom were immigrants or newcomers to the United States. States.

Labor economy workers are disproportionately from racial and ethnic minorities, according to the Pew Research Center stand-out -in-the-us-gig-workforce, with non-white workers more likely to report “disturbing encounters” such as feeling insecure. A Grubhub spokesperson said the safety of drivers and couriers “is our top priority” and that it will “work with state and local governments across the country to implement safety measures.”

Ahsan said the company offered Bablu’s family $15,000 following his murder. “It’s really nothing – it can only sustain the family for a few months,” Ahsan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “These are very dangerous jobs – and companies need to be more responsible.”

The report says major app-based companies including Uber, Grubhub, Lyft, Postmates and Instacart are not doing enough to keep gig workers safe and providing inadequate compensation when they are targeted by criminals in the framework of their work. “These are not isolated incidents…It’s a trend,” said Cherri Murphy, a former Lyft driver who worked on the report.

In emailed statements, all of the gig companies mentioned in the report said they put worker safety first. Some have introduced new safety precautions and benefits in the event of injury or death. WORKERS ASSAULT, KILLED

But in light of the dangers drivers and delivery workers often face, which can include carjackings and thefts, critics of app companies say they should give workers the perks of a part-time job full. Gig companies have campaigned to classify workers as independent contractors, rather than employees, a move that saves Uber and Lyft $392 million in annual costs associated with insurance and taxes alone. in California, estimated -law-idUKKBN26Q1TI by Reuters.

“We know that workers who drive for a living are 20 times more likely to be murdered than people in other jobs,” said Veena Dubal, a professor at UC Hastings College of the Law, who made pressure to extend all employee rights to gig workers. In 2021, Uber introduced new safety features, including allowing drivers and passengers to record call audio, and offering additional injury protections.

Some gig companies offer death benefits, but the protections are often less than those given to traditional employees, Dubal said. Grubhub, the company for which Bablu delivered food, did not respond to a request for comment on insurance or death benefits offered to workers.

“Companies are responsible for putting the lives of workers at risk,” said Ligia Guallpa, executive director of the Workers Justice Project, which helps organize the collective of delivery drivers, Los Deliveristas Unidos, which means Delivery Workers United in Spanish. His group has recorded at least 16 delivery drivers killed on the job in New York between 2020 and 2021 in accidents and assaults.

“We have vigils all the time,” she said. Uber’s latest safety report, from 2019, showed seven workers were assaulted and killed in 2017 and 2018. Lyft documented 10 killings between 2017 and 2019.

None of the other major platforms have made this data public, according to Gig Workers Rising Murphy said it was difficult to know the true scope of security concerns, calling for a ban on nondisclosure agreements and for companies to make more data public.

INSURANCE PAYMENTS Last year, New York City introduced regulations championed by Guallpa and delivery drivers, including safety rules that allow workers to review a proposed route before accepting a new delivery.

Prior to this, workers could not refuse deliveries on routes they deemed unsafe without being penalized. But when gig workers are assaulted or murdered, getting insurance payments can be difficult, said Bryant Greenling, a Chicago attorney who represents rideshare drivers.

“Companies often fight tooth and nail (to avoid payments),” he said. Families of workers profiled in the Gig Workers Rising report said companies sometimes did not contact them after a worker’s death – and were difficult to contact after incidents.

Alyssa Lewis, whose sister Isabella was murdered while driving for Lyft in 2021, said the only statement Lyft made about the incident was published in the local newspaper and the family needed to raise funds for funeral expenses on GoFundMe. “This is a big tech company – the least they could have done was contact us and help with the funeral,” she said.

A spokesperson for Lyft said the company had tried to contact Lewis’ family but was unsuccessful, adding that it was ‘committed to doing everything in its power to help protect drivers from crime’ .

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)