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Opinion

Readers React: Don’t bend labor rules so tech companies can profit from the gig economy

Ride Hailing App Lyft Prepares For Its IPO
A car displaying the Lyft and Uber logos in San Francisco.
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

To the editor: The future of the so-called gig economy is not secure, because it is based on transferring the real costs of distributing goods and services to taxpayers in the form of food stamps, rent subsidies and healthcare for workers. (“California legislators could save gig workers — or ruin the part-time economy,” editorial, July 6)

The fact that Uber and Lyft are losing billions of dollars confirms their gig model is a loss leader and depends on below-cost sales. The Silicon Valley mantra of “move fast and break things” is really an excuse for engaging in unfair competition.

If the L.A Times editorial board does not believe full labor protections ought to be extended to gig workers, then let’s curb the application of labor laws to the rest of the economy. Why favor distribution systems funded by Silicon Valley?

The marketplace, applying worker protections to all competitors, should determine winners and losers. Don’t change the labor laws to benefit Silicon Valley

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David Laufer, Oxnard

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To the editor: I absolutely agree with the state legislators that “shared ride” and delivery drivers should be considered employees. The only reason companies resist is monetary.

There are other employment activities, however, that advance the purpose of the company but do not fit neatly into the definition of “employee.”

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When I was young, I reviewed practice exams for a bar review course at home on my own hours. I was paid per exam reviewed. I have a similar job now, and there are many other such piece-work activities out there.

It would be impossible and illogical to try to make these “gigs” conform to rules on employment.

Erica Hahn, Monrovia

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To the editor: In a letter to the editor, an assistant professor at the USC Marshall School of Business wrote that he would like proponents of classifying Uber and Lyft drivers as employees to show him “where an employee works for the Nos. 1 and 2 corporations in the same industry simultaneously,” and that “only an independent contractor could have the freedom and liberty to make such decisions.”

In fact, many part-time workers in retail, food service and housekeeping industries are W-2 employees for multiple employers like Subway and McDonalds (the Nos. 1 and 2 fast-food chains), or Wyndham Worldwide and Marriott International (the Nos. 1 and 2 hotel chains.)

Do Uber and Lyft workers appreciate the “freedom and liberty” to go without health insurance, family medical leave and other employee benefits?

Michael Grodsky, Santa Fe, N.M.

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