The Way We Work Now is a series chronicling how people’s lives and careers have fundamentally changed because of the pandemic.
This anonymous delivery driver, 39, spoke with Mai Tran about being laid off from the grocery store Vons after its parent company, Albertsons, announced it will no longer offer in-house delivery services to customers. The decision comes after California passed Proposition 22, a ballot measure favored by gig economy companies like Uber and Lyft, which now designates drivers as independent contractors instead of employees.
All the drivers found out about the layoffs on December 8, when we got an abrupt message saying we had a mandatory conference call. Other drivers were extremely upset. Everyone had questions: “What’s the deal? I thought we were making good business.” The company tried to smooth it over by saying, “We understand that you’re upset and this is a hard decision.” Well, it’s not exactly a hard decision when you’re just looking at figures and numbers on a screen.
The layoffs will be effective at the end of February. They tried to cushion the fall by offering a severance pay if we stayed on until the end, and said they would help us to look for another job within the company, whether it be in a store or a warehouse. I never had a delivery job before this, but I saw the ad in March 2018, and thought it would be easy to do. With Covid-19 happening this past year, to say that business was booming would be an understatement. I was making double what I used to make when I started working for Vons.
I never even considered working for Uber or Lyft. When I first heard about Proposition 22, I honestly thought it was a good thing. Both my wife and I voted yes. Because of the way the ads were worded, we thought we would be helping the DoorDash, Instacart, and Uber drivers. We didn’t realize that voting yes would hurt me and my fellow drivers. It was a bit of a bait and switch. Now, the only drivers staying on are the unionized ones, the ones in Northern California. All the other drivers in…