19 Jan 2021
13 Jan, 2021
BY Jesi Bolandrina
In the past 10 months, you’ve seen countless articles and news segments about how the country has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. Curbside pick up became available at your favorite retail stores and restaurants. Contactless delivery connected you to groceries and products from the safety of your home. If you had to leave your home, you may encounter workers wiping down shopping carts, refilling hand sanitizer, or taking your temperature and keeping a count as you enter a building.
These are American gig workers hard at work. This workforce has been behind-the-scenes across the country taking gig jobs and temporary positions. These workers are everywhere, from manufacturing to customer service, to help everyone adapt to a changing world.
They continue to help keep you protected. And now it’s time we all help protect them.
Jobble joins Uber, DoorDash and other gig economy platforms in supporting the inclusion of gig workers on COVID-19 vaccine priority lists.
“Gig workers like our Jobblers have been at every stage of our country’s recovery and continued operations throughout the pandemic,” says Jobble CEO and co-founder, Zack Smith. “They’ve been helping keep warehouses running while also keeping shelves stocked and delivering goods right to your door. The gig economy grew during the pandemic. We need to do our part in not only thanking them but helping gig workers get the vaccine so they can keep working safely.”
According to CDC guidelines, COVID-19 vaccine priority first went to healthcare professionals and nursing home residents. Phase 1B is expected to include essential workers. The CDC defines this as: fire fighters, police officers, corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, and educational workers.”
Many gig platforms noted that gig workers in essential roles are missing from that list. Today, these workers are still providing services and often being in contact with customers throughout their job.
In New York, state senator Jessica Ramos is demanding that Governor Andrew Cuomo include delivery workers and for-hire-vehicle drivers. She advocated for this group of gig economy workers by saying, “The people who keep us fed, get home, and stay home safely deserve dignity and safety too.”
Each state gets to determine how they categorize essential workers. Millions of gig workers across the United States are still performing essential work. Leaving them out of the early phases of vaccination would be a disservice to the workforce. Gig workers are classified as independent contractors. This legal status can leave them vulnerable to being skipped in vaccine distribution phases. They aren’t unionized or organized under any large or well-known organizations. Advocating for their wellbeing can be difficult and unheard.
That’s why gig platforms like ours and gig workers themselves need to create awareness and change. Gig workers want to work. But, they need to be able to do it safely.
“Working through this pandemic is risky,” said Jobbler Jose L. from New Jersey. “I take a chance everyday when I step out of the house. But, I encourage myself to keep going through these hard times. I just think of my loved ones and who I am doing this for.”
Rolling out a distribution plan for vaccines for gig workers would be difficult. Sources cite issues in identifying eligible workers and contacting them about the availability of the vaccine. But this is a problem that states need to address, with the help of the gig platforms. Uber and Lyft have reportedly already offered to assist in the vaccine distribution.
“In so many ways, gig workers have proven that they’re hard working Americans who will answer any call to keep the country running,” says Smith. “So now we have to answer them and help them get the vaccine so they can keep doing what they’re doing to support their hustle and live the flexible lifestyle they need.”