A detailed breakdown of why you should vote ‘no’

A rideshare driver holds up a sign supporting a no vote on Proposition 22 in Oakland on October 9, 2020. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Californians should vote NO on Prop 22, which if passed would exempt app-based transportation and delivery companies like Uber and Lyft from providing employee benefits to certain drivers. These ride-share and delivery tech companies have spent millions on putting forth this proposition in response to California’s AB-5 “gig worker bill” that went into effect on January 1, 2020, and requires companies to reclassify certain independent contractors as employees, complete with benefits.

Here, I’ve tried to answer some questions from voters hesitant to vote no and am happy to add to this list if people have other questions.

For people who…


A journalist called me a “class traitor” for leaving Uber to start a worker-owned competitor: Co-op Ride.

I’ve had the privilege of being welcomed into the upper-echelons of the elite “meritocracy.” McKinsey & Company. Georgetown. Uber. Stanford. They all let me slip through the pearly gates.

But I’m the daughter of a self-employed real estate appraiser and a unionized public school teacher. NYSUT, a federation of New York State teacher unions, funds my parents’ retirements and sister’s health insurance.

It is sometimes easy to forget your truest self when you’re told you’re special. When you’re flying first-class at 21 years-old…


I was reading Cheryl Strayed’s book Dear Sugar, a compilation of real-talk advice columns. Someone wrote in bemoaning that, despite attending prestigious colleges, she had not landed a six-figure book deal and was unable to feel happy for friends who had. Strayed laid down the facts:

“We are not talking about books. We’re talking about book deals. You know they are not the same thing, right?…Your cause is to write a great book and then to write another great book and to keep writing them for as long as you can. This is your only cause. It is not get…


Tax-advantaged Lifelong Learning and Training Accounts are accounts that workers could use at any time during their careers to pay for education and training. More detail here (Aspen Institute). While LLTAs enable government and employer sponsorship of training, thereby democratizing access to training at or below $10,000, there are several equity concerns:

  1. Match structure

As shown below, the government contribution rate decreases with a worker’s adjusted gross income.

Source: Aspen Institute

However, by having any type of match, LLTAs advantage those with the ability to save. Given that the maximum individual contribution on a LLTA would be $2,000 annually, as…


Originally appeared in The New York Times

To the Editor:

Trumpeting support for legislation requiring benefits for gig workers, then lobbying to minimize required contributions and the number of workers who qualify, is a public relations tactic to prevent legislation classifying workers as employees.

Benefits for gig workers is a bad-faith promise Uber has been making for more than three years. Pending legislation proposes only bare-bones benefits for a small minority of workers.

The California ballot initiative, for instance, pays only part of even a bronze Affordable Care Act plan for drivers working more than 15 hours a week on…


A timeline of how gaps in employment law forced the federal government to spend billions to subsidize the cost of paid leave and unemployment benefits for millions of Uber drivers

March 6

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia sends a letter to Uber, Lyft, Instacart, Postmates, Grubhub and DoorDash urging their contractors to follow the CDC guidelines to stay home, but saying they should not bear financial hardship. This letter is complemented by Gig Workers Rising posting a petition for paid leave of Coworker.org.

During this time, I was having regular conversations with senior leadership at the major gig platforms, including…


Why do the poor have to pay to bank, but the rich get paid to bank?

Banking while poor is expensive. Savings accounts are not linked to a debit card, so if you want to pay in something other than cash, you need a debit or credit card.

A debit card is linked to a checking account. With the exception of Capital One’s 360 Checking Account, all checking accounts have monthly minimum balances, and many have monthly direct deposit minimums. If these monthly minimums are not met, clients will be asked to pay a monthly fee to keep the account…


Appeared in the Albany Times Union: https://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/Viewpoint-More-than-ever-gig-workers-deserve-15180529.php

During the coronavirus crisis, gig workers are quickly becoming everyday heroes. They are collecting essential medicines, delivering much-needed groceries and even taking the ill to hospital. We’re asking them to meet our needs and risk their own health to do it, but what protections do they have when they are ill? None.

Gig workers are understandably panicking. These are some of the lowest-income workers in the country. Most — 58% — do not have the financial means to cover a $400 emergency. Online forums are busier than ever, and comments follow a similar…


Over 80 percent of GSB students (over 700 people) have signed a petition asking for a significant tuition reduction from Stanford. Over 1,000 professional school graduate students from across Stanford have signed a similar petition asking for a tuition waiver and protections for workers. I was one of the dozen students who collaborated to pen the first of those two petitions, because I was sad to see Stanford fail to support its students and workers, while so many other organizations have risen to this critical occasion.

Students across professional graduate schools clearly feel strongly that the cost of attendance needs…


Appeared in Stanford Daily: https://www.stanforddaily.com/2020/03/29/stanford-unlike-other-schools-stiffs-its-subcontracted-workers/

The coronavirus pandemic reveals a lot about how powerful institutions choose to treat their workers, including subcontracted workers. Many universities have done the right thing. Stanford has not.

Large universities, including Stanford, use contractors to hire workers for less glamorous but essential activities to run campuses, including janitorial, security and cafeteria services. Now that campuses are closed at least through the spring, these workers are not needed.

Elite institutions including MIT, the University of Chicago, Duke and the University of Southern California have agreed to continue paying these workers. …

Alissa Orlando

Gig economy operator (ex- Uber , Rocket Internet) turned advocate for better conditions. Jesuit values Georgetown, MBA Stanford GSB. Twitter: @AlissaOrlando

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