Coronavirus Exposes Workers to the Risks of the Gig Economy
Drivers for Uber and Lyft in Seattle say demand for rides has plummeted, and they have few workplace benefits to fall back on.
FOR THE PAST nine years, Mandolin Noir has taken care of other people’s pets around Seattle, often working through companies like Rover and Wag. The work is steady; she visits the dogs when their owners are at work, and checks in on the cats when owners travel out of town. But in the past week, she’s faced a cascade of cancelations. Her clients who work for Amazon and Zillow have been asked by their employers to stay home because of Covid-19, and vacations have been canceled. Now Noir is trying to find a full-time job—no easy task when half of Seattle is shut down and, as the local health department said on Tuesday, the disease is “spreading more rapidly” in the county.
“Suddenly all of my work has disappeared,” she says. “I have enough money to pay bills through next month and that’s it.”