Lyft drivers are beating up ridesharing company for selling personal protective equipment (PPE) to their drivers through an online store – saying masks and other safety supplies should be provided to them for free.
California Lyft driver Aidan Alva said, “It’s a blasphemous and overall ridiculous level of protection to sell protective gear to your workers, which they need for the risks you benefit from”. “There is nothing about it that is trying to protect its drivers.”
Lyft Store sells reusable and disposable masks, hand sanitizers, disinfectants, and more items by Mission Ready Solutions, Inc. The website states that there is no markup price on these items and drivers pay a wholesale price (not including shipping costs).
Drivers for the rideshare company called the move to sell products “outrageous”, as they say they saw little effort on the part of Lyft to provide safety supplies during the coronavirus epidemic.
Lyft announced a $ 6.5 million initiative for coronavirus support in April. The company said it has dedicated $ 2.5 million in cleaning supplies and a face mask to drivers.
A Lyft spokesperson told that the company does not take advantage of PPE available for purchase on its online store.
“All cleaning supplies and safety products are provided free or at cost to drivers,” the spokesperson said. “Lyft Store is a resource for millions of drivers in the U.S. to provide easy access to cleaning supplies and face masks that have been increasingly difficult to find.”
The spokesperson said Lyft gave away 150,000 sanitizing products and masks for free.
But Alva told that he was only able to get hand sanitizers from his local Lyft hub, and even then, he had to pay for it. The second time he went back to get more supplies, he was told that they had run away.
Instead, drivers have resorted to organizing their own PPE donation drives, so that drivers can be supplied with more when needed. Alva’s group, Gig Workers Rising, organized one of these drives, and other groups such as V Drive Progress have also made similar distribution drives.
California Franklin’s driver Alan Franklin said last month V Drive Progress Drive supplied him with things like gloves, hand sanitizers, masks and disinfecting wipes that he needs to do his job every day. That drive was donation-based, but Franklin said he spent hundreds of dollars of his own money on supplies, rather than Lyft providing them.
He told , “The two things that are happening together are that COVID has very few rides, and our costs are in providing this PPE.”
While drivers feel that purchasing essential safety products from their own company is backward, it may not be legal, at least in California.
Current regulations by the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health require employers to implement effective measures to protect employees, including free PPE supplies. This requires employers to “provide employees with fabric coverings or allow them their own use and reimburse them for costs.”
California regulators declared Lyft drivers an employee in a June ruling.
Both Franklin and Alva agree that the company is not doing enough to provide its drivers – who are considered essential employees – with the proper supplies to do their work safely.
Franklin said, “The biggest concern we have as drivers is that we are exposed to it every day.”