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What The Coronavirus Stimulus Package Could Mean For LA Gig Workers

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The Senate’s agreement on a coronavirus stimulus package includes a big boost in unemployment benefits — especially for self-employed workers, who previously couldn’t get those benefits at all.

The deal, which still needs to pass the House and get President Trump's signature, would increase weekly unemployment insurance payments by up to $600 per week. Currently, California’s payments top out at $450 per week.

In the past, only workers classified as employees were eligible for unemployment insurance. But under the new deal, self-employed workers and those in the gig economy — such as Postmates delivery workers and Uber drivers — could now receive payments.

L.A. driver Nicole Moore with Rideshare Drivers United said demand for rides has dried up — and drivers need help, fast.

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“I'm talking to people that have no money in their bank account,” she said. “They have bills due on their cars, bills due on their homes, and they have a family that they’re supporting.”


Moore argues drivers already should have been eligible under AB5 — a state law pushing companies like Uber and Lyft to classify their drivers as employees. But so far, companies have resisted that move.

Regardless of how the benefits arrive, the need is widespread. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that more than 1 million Californians have already applied for unemployment over the past two weeks.



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