Uber, Personal Finance, Driver, Johan Nijman, Us

Uber, Personal Finance

Risk coronavirus or default: ride-hail drivers face tough choices as US aid expires

Risk coronavirus or default: ride-hail drivers face tough choices as US aid expires

6/8/2020 2:34:00 PM

Risk coronavirus or default: ride-hail drivers face tough choices as US aid expires

Uber driver Johan Nijman faces a difficult decision as federal unemployment aid expires: risk failing to pay for groceries and even lose his home, ...

BusinessUber driver Johan Nijman faces a difficult decision as federal unemployment aid expires: risk failing to pay for groceries and even lose his home, or resume driving and potentially catch COVID-19.FILE PHOTO: Uber and Lyft signs are seen on a car in Redondo Beach, California, U.S., March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Changi Airport T1 eateries, Clementi coffee shop among slew of places visited by Covid-19 cases while infectious Victoria JC student infected with Covid-19; 103 people quarantined, 2,200 others to be swabbed 7 community cases among 20 new COVID-19 infections in Singapore

06 Aug 2020 07:25PMShare this contentBookmarkNEW YORK: Uber driver Johan Nijman faces a difficult decision as federal unemployment aid expires: risk failing to pay for groceries and even lose his home, or resume driving and potentially catch COVID-19.

Nijman is among thousands of Uber Technologies Inc and Lyft Inc drivers across the United States choosing between physical and financial health risks as US$600 in additional weekly unemployment assistance expire.AdvertisementAdvertisementWhile drivers are not the only workers struggling, they are particularly vulnerable as their work puts them close to many strangers. Also, as independent contractors, they have none of the formal protection or benefits that employees enjoy. headtopics.com

"I never thought that after working so hard for so long that I would ever find myself in a situation where I had to ask for food one day," Nijman said.With type 2 diabetes putting him at higher risk for severe COVID-19, Nijman stopped driving in mid-March when the virus was raging through New York City. Before the pandemic, he earned some US$1,500 a week driving for Uber's high-end black car service in an SUV he bought when he signed up in 2017.

He applied for unemployment and received around US$900 in weekly benefits - some US$300 from the state and US$600 from the federal government. That barely covered his expenses, including city-mandated liability insurance drivers must keep paying.Advertisement

AdvertisementWithout the additional US$600, Nijman said he faces financial ruin, putting his car and house on the line.Other drivers, like Sacramento-based Melinda Pualani, are still waiting for their unemployment claims to process, with agencies overwhelmed by the slew of applications.

"Driving again was simply a necessity because I used up most of my savings and still have to keep food on the table," Pualani said.She resumed driving last week, rolling down windows, thoroughly disinfecting her car after every trip and asking passengers to wear masks. headtopics.com

Victoria Junior College student positive for COVID-19; more than 100 students, staff members quarantined SPH shake-up: ‘Extremely important’ to maintain public trust in media and Government, says Shanmugam Many governments helping their country’s media; SPH case no different: Shanmugam

Federal pandemic pay offered a lifeline to many gig workers not eligible for ordinary unemployment insurance. Uber and Lyft lobbied U.S. lawmakers to include gig workers in the taxpayer-funded March coronavirus relief bill and workers remain eligible for state-based assistance.

No data is available on the share of gig workers among the 30 million Americans currently collecting unemployment. But the enhanced US$600 pay stopped last week and U.S. lawmakers are at an impasse over how to extend it.Uber and Lyft have provided drivers with masks and disinfectants. They also pay two-week financial assistance to drivers infected by the virus or ordered to quarantine.

Trip requests dropped 80per cent in April and remain significantly below prior-year levels. Uber and Lyft are expected to provide updates when they report results later on Thursday and Wednesday, respectively.For parents, the timing is particularly difficult.

Single mom Denise Rozier, a Lyft driver in Austin, Texas, burned through her savings and in April contracted the virus. Alone and struggling to breathe, she worried she might not recover."I have a lot of anxiety, but really need to go back (to work) with school starting and expenses piling up," she said."I don't want to risk my safety, but I also don't want to depend on my family." headtopics.com

Rozier is afraid of bringing the virus to her family or even contracting it again.But she also fears altercations with passengers refusing to wear masks. Uber and Lyft have mandated masks for drivers and passengers, but several driver dashcam videos posted online have shown heated arguments with riders refusing to wear one.

"I wished that people in power find a way to look after people that never looked for a handout," Queens-based Nijman said.(Reporting by Tina Bellon in New York; Editing by Ben Klayman and Peter Henderson) Read more: CNA »

S'pore-HK air travel bubble starts May 26, 2 daily flights capped at 200 passengers each for first 2 weeks

Exclusive: Republican senators back extending US$25 billion payroll aid for US airlines; shares jumpA group of 16 Senate Republicans on Wednesday backed extending a US$25 billion payroll assistance program for U.S. airlines who have warned they ...

US wants to see 'untrusted' Chinese apps removed from US app stores, says Mike PompeoWASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The United States wants to see 'untrusted' Chinese apps removed from US app stores, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday (Aug 5), calling the Chinese-owned short-video app TikTok and messenger app WeChat 'significant threats'.. Read more at straitstimes.com.

Gold vaults above US$2,000 mark for first time in history on US stimulus betsNEW YORK (REUTERS) - Gold prices soared past the key US$2,000 mark for the first time in history on Tuesday (Aug 4), as the ultra-low interest rate environment and hopes for more US stimulus to safeguard the coronavirus-hit economy enhanced the safe-haven metal's appeal.. Read more at straitstimes.com.

Kodak's US$765 million US loan prompts probe by House DemocratsWASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - House Democrats have launched an investigation into Eastman Kodak's US$765 million (S$1 billion) government loan and are seeking documents from a US agency involved in granting the proposed funding.. Read more at straitstimes.com.

Mike Pompeo offers US$10 million reward over US election interferenceWASHINGTON (AFP) - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday (Aug 5) the United States would offer a US$10 million (S$13 million) reward to arrest any state actor who interferes in the November elections.. Read more at straitstimes.com.

US: S&P 500, Nasdaq dip as US-China tensions heat up over TikTok[BENGALURU] The S&P 500 and Nasdaq ticked lower on Tuesday as President Donald Trump's moves to force China-owned TikTok into a sale of its US operations drew a sharp rebuke from Beijing, ratcheting up tensions as the world slides into a pandemic-fuelled recession. Read more at The Business Times.