Rideshare and delivery app drivers in Connecticut mobilize for higher wages, workers’ rights

Connecticut rideshare and delivery app drivers demanded higher wages and basic worker protections at a rally in New Haven on Wednesday. The battle comes as drivers face inflation, rising gas prices and job safety concerns.

The group met outside Union Station to draw signs and mark cars, detailing their frustrations and what they wanted from companies like Uber, Lyft, Instacart, DoorDash and Grubhub.

“They are multi-billion dollar companies and they give us peanuts,” Ramon Ortiz told News 12. Ortiz has promoted both Uber and Lyft. “We want companies to be fair.”

Drivers are classified as independent contractors rather than employees and are therefore not subject to minimum wage laws. No overtime, no paid holidays, no benefits.

Jesenia Rodriguez said she has been driving for Uber for over five years. But while customer prices are rising, driver salaries are falling.

Ken McGill, a Connecticut Drivers United volunteer who organized Wednesday’s effort, said: “Drivers are being pressured by these big companies and they need the right to fight back and be able to make money at work. “This is a grassroots organization,” said CDU volunteer Ken McGill.

From Union Station, the crew caravanned downtown with signs, honking their horns to call attention to their duties until they reached City Hall. It was attended by supporters including US Congressman Rosa De Lauro (D-3), who supported the CDU’s fight for what the organization calls “dignity and standards.”

“I pay homage to that. That’s what this is. This is a tribute to the men and women who do this work every day,” De Lauro said to the cheering crowd.

Some drivers have argued for the right to unionize in the hope that it will lead to protections in the workplace.

Others speaking at the rally focused on safety concerns. One woman told the crowd that she had been sexually harassed, but reporting it could affect her.

“80% of our income comes from tips, so female rideshare drivers have a choice: report restaurants and customers, or keep tips.”

Several speakers said there is a need for a driver’s bill of rights that protects drivers from harassment and discrimination and ensures job security.

“Connecticut drivers are suffering,” Carlos Gomez said in Spanish through an interpreter. “App companies are playing with our families and our future.”

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