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Uber CEO Urges White House to Help Gig Economy Workers Hurt by Coronavirus

By Donna Fuscaldo - Mar 23, 2020 at 12:58PM

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Uber's head Dara Khosrowshahi wants President Trump to include gig economy workers in any stimulus packages lawmakers pass to offer coronavirus relief.

With the White House gearing up to offer more than a trillion dollars in aid to help struggling Americans in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Uber (UBER -0.74%) CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wants gig economy workers to be included too. 

In a letter to President Trump obtained by Axios, the Uber CEO urged the White House to include its workers in any packages that are approved. The ride-hailing company didn't ask for a bailout, just relief for the scores of drivers who have no income coming in as the COVID-19 virus spreads throughout the U.S. 

Uber driver on the road.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

As of Monday, there were 39,371 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. resulting in 467 deaths.  That number is expected to increase dramatically. Cities and states across the country have closed restaurants, bars, and movie theaters and have called on their citizens to shelter in place. That is resulting in a steep decline in demand for rides. Uber's food delivery business is seeing an uptick as a result of the virus. 

"Our laws should protect all workers, not just one type of work. While I recognize that the Administration and Congress have many pressing issues before them, I urge you to act quickly to provide protections for independent workers," wrote Khosrowshahi. He also asked the president to consider legislation that would update the labor laws to include gig economy workers, noting the company is already working with lawmakers and Governors.

The CEO went on to say his goal in penning the letter wasn't to get a bailout for Uber but to support the independent workers on its platform. The letter appears to be a bit of an about-face for a company that has long waged a war with its gig economy workers, refusing calls to classify them as employees instead of independent contractors. 

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