Uber, Lyft drivers' union asks for emergency economic relief

SEATTLE – On Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee ordered more schools to close in an attempt to keep the coronavirus from spreading.

Some companies asked their employees to work from home early-on during the outbreak, but obviously not everybody works a job where that kind of flexibility is possible.

Now, rideshare drivers are sounding the alarm. So many people are working from home, Uber and Lyft drivers say they are barely making enough money to pay for lunch.

“Today I made less than $15 since this morning,” said driver Ubah Dahran, adding that the coronavirus outbreak has taken a chunk of her income.

First Avenue in Seattle was practically empty during the Thursday evening commute. That means rideshare drivers had a hard time finding customers; some spent hours idling without making a dime.

“I did pay my bills for this month, but I don’t know about next month,” she said.

“I have no fear from the virus because of what I have back home,” said driver Ahmed Mahamud. “I have no food on the table. I have no money to pay the rent.”

Mahamud used to count on tech workers and others needing a ride to the airport, but now even a 16-hour shift leaves him deeper in the red.

“I made $18.17 the whole day,” he said.

The ridesharecompanies say they have been handing out cleaning supplies to drivers and will offer compensation for any who fall ill to Covid-19

“Since the virus is getting worse and worse and worse, people are not coming out at all,” said Mahamud.

But the drivers’ union, Teamsters 117, went further by urging public officials to halt evictions and have asked both Uber and Lyft to pay drivers an emergency income in addition to helping with mortgage and rent.

Drivers who can find a fare feel lucky and some willing to work through a pandemic believe feeding their family feels like a bigger crisis than coronavirus.

“I cannot sit home,” said Dahran. “I mean because have four kids, I have to feed my kids.

The drivers’ union sent letters asking for relief from state and local officials, and also to Lyft and Uber saying without intervention drivers would quickly face an economic crisis.

Q13 News also reached out to the letter’s recipients seeking comment but they did not immediately return the message.