San Francisco

‘I'm Independent': Not All Gig Economy Workers Want a Full-Time Job

Samantha Saucedo drives for Lyft, she does it part time, and that’s just fine with her, thank you.

“My daughters have field trips, and I can attend to them,” she says. “One daughter went to yoga, one went skating, and I was there. Each time. I just turned off the app.”

Despite what you may hear, not all rideshare drivers want full-time jobs. Many of them, like Samantha, want flexibility. It’s why they joined the gig economy in the first place.

James Fox is a young man who calls himself an “independent contractor.” He turns on the app and drives for Lyft when he wants. “In San Francisco, there’s never a dull moment. I always have someone in my car. There are a million people looking not to park.”

Samantha, James, and several other Lyft and Uber drivers showed up at a WeWork office in San Jose to represent the I’m Independent Coalition, which says it represents 2 million people in California who want to remain just that – independent.

It says since last April, the California Supreme Court has made it tougher to be an independent contractor, negatively affecting some hairdressers, security guards, truckers .. and gig economy workers.

“They want to keep their flexibility,” says Kim Ericksen of the I’m Independent Coalition. “They want control over their own schedules, and their own incomes.”

As someone who has covered many a rally where rideshare drivers are pushing for full time status, it’s easy to think, well, everyone must want a full time gig. But then, I remember all the stories on TaskRabbit, DoorDash .. the list goes on. Some, apparently, want more freedom.

Rideshare driver Ezra Turner, who has driven for both Uber and Lyft, puts it this way: “I drive when I want. I start early, which allows me to drive when there’s not much traffic, and I get home when I want.”

And isn’t that what we want from a gig?

For those who want more, James Fox has a piece of advice: “Get a real job.”

Scott tracks the gig economy on Twitter: @scottbudman

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