Has ‘Gig Work’ Become a Dirty Word?

Some drivers say they have seen their wages decline. When Eid Ali first started driving for Uber and Lyft in Minnesota nearly a decade ago, he said he earned as much as $400 per week, driving full time. Over the last few years, it’s been more like $100 or $150, after expenses, in part because his costs have risen.

For drivers like himself, “it was a slow realization,” Mr. Ali said. He said drivers initially gushed about the benefits of being a gig worker, with decent pay and flexibility. Now, they are more likely to dissuade others from such work.

“They used to say something positive about the gig economy — ‘Yes, we are making enough to feed our families, it is flexible, we are working whenever we want,’” he said. “That is not there now — it’s gone.”

Mr. Ali, the president of an advocacy group called the Minnesota Uber/Lyft Drivers Association, helped push for the Minnesota gig bill.

Others say they have not seen much of an erosion in the promise of gig work. It is still a popular way for people to earn money on the side, and a coalition called Protect App-Based Drivers and Services, which is backed by the gig companies, said driver earnings are rising. The coalition pointed to compromises — like Proposition 22 in California, which prevented drivers from being classified as employees but gave them a minimum wage and limited benefits — as signs of progress.

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