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Uber San Francisco HQ swarmed by workers launching new statewide union

Members of the CA Gigworking Union announce their presence underneath the Uber Headquarters at 1725 3rd Street in Mission Bay San Francisco, Calif. on Wednesday, October 12, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

Gig workers descended on Uber’s San Francisco headquarters Wednesday, announcing a new statewide union to fight for better working conditions. 

Over 50 couriers and taxi drivers from two California unions met to launch the new union—the California Gig Workers Union—before marching to DoorDash’s offices via Lyft’s Berry Street headquarters.

Union founders say conditions have not improved under Proposition 22. The 2020 California law classifies gig workers as independent contractors and not employees.

In 2021, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch ruled that Prop. 22 is unconstitutional.

“For years, gig companies have exempted themselves from providing basic protections and rights to their workers—including a minimum wage, overtime pay, paid time off, and access to compensation when they are injured on the job,” a press release from the statewide union states. 

The new union combines the Mobile Workers Alliance in Southern California and We Drive Progress in Northern California. 

Outside Uber’s Mission Bay offices was union member Hector Castellanos from Antioch. 

Castellanos drives for Lyft and Uber six days a week for 12 hours per day starting at 5 a.m. each day. 

Hector Castellanos drives Uber and Lyft, he's a member of the new California Gig Workers Union. | Kevin V. Nguyen/The Standard

He told The Standard that, in 2017, he got into a car accident that injured him and left him unable to work, and his daughter had to briefly drop out of college to help him pay bills.

“They’re taking complete advantage of us, and it’s not just happening here, it’s happening everywhere,” he said. “It was an insult how they treated us during the pandemic. Now that gas is so expensive, they have barely helped on that, too. They only added 55 cents per ride!”

Union member Cardell Calloway from Lancaster said he’s been doing gig work since 2014 and almost died delivering food in 2017. 

He said: “When I or my fellow workers get hurt, it’s ultimately the taxpayer that subsidizes us while the companies get wealthy.”

Union member Cardell Calloway claims he almost died delivering food in 2017. | Kevin V. Nguyen/The Standard

An Uber spokesperson said: “Prop. 22 delivered historic new benefits and protections and a 120% minimum wage guarantee to drivers while maintaining the flexibility they overwhelmingly say they want. In fact, a recent poll showed that more than 90% of drivers think that Prop. 22 improved their lives with the majority also saying they believe drivers in other states would benefit if their state passed a similar law.”

A Lyft spokesperson said: “Drivers supported and California voters overwhelmingly passed Prop. 22. With more than 1 million unfilled traditional jobs and record low unemployment in the state, drivers are still choosing this work because of the earning potential, benefits, independence, and flexibility it provides.”

A DoorDash spokesperson said: “Dashers deserve to have their voices heard, which is why we’ve always created channels to seek their feedback. Time and again, Dashers have told us that Prop. 22 has supported them by protecting the flexibility they need while providing strong earnings and the security of access to benefits and protections.”

This effort to combine the unions came after SFO service workers fought and won a pay rise and better benefits recently, while the Castro Starbucks unionized in August.