Ridesharing is the Path to Wealth

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Harry C. Alford and Kay DeBow

Beyond the Rhetoric

By Harry C. & Kay DeBow

For many decades, the alternatives to private travel were taxi cabs, public trains and busing. As we entered the 21st century, a new mode of travel presented itself to the public. It was ridesharing. This concept was entrepreneurial from its roots. A person would prepare his own car for travel at a reasonable fee. The process would be high technology, which would offer many advantages over traditional transportation businesses such as trains and taxis.

There was much debate on who the eventual winner would be. I reached my conclusion during a trip to Chicago. We lined up to take a taxi to O’Hare Airport. The estimated wait would be 30 minutes. Impatient, I decided to try out my new Uber service. In just six minutes my Suburban sedan was there to pick us up and hurried us to the airport. The debate was over as far as I was concerned. We have been rideshare customers ever since.

There is more than just convenience when it comes to rideshare. Rideshare operators are true entrepreneurs. As leaders of the largest Black business association in the world it is important that we practice what we preach – capitalism/entrepreneurship.

Over the years, there have been legislative battles between the taxi industry and the rising rideshare component. Today, in California there is a pitched battle between the two camps. For obvious reasons, the National Black Chamber of Commerce supports the rideshare component such as Lyft, Uber, Door Dash, etc. The alternative is basically working for somebody, i.e., employment rather than ownership.

We are being threatened with Assembly Bill 5 (AB5). This threatens to take away the right of Californians to work as independent contractors with flexible schedules with app-based platforms, to become employees with flat wages and set schedules. An employee model would also greatly limit the availability of these services, resulting in lost work opportunities and reduced access to rideshare and delivery services that many minority communities have grown to rely on.

The solution would be the Protect App-Based Drivers & Services Act. It would maintain access to flexible work opportunities for low-income individuals by protecting their right to work as independent contractors with flexible schedules with app-based rideshare and delivery platforms.

It would also provide economic stability through a minimum earnings guarantee of at least 120 percent of minimum wage and 30 cents per mile compensation toward expenses, with no limits on how much drivers can make.

[The Act also proposes] providing a contribution toward health care coverage starting for those who drive just 15 hours a week. Drivers who work 25 hours per week or more earn a health care payment that covers 100 percent of the average employer contribution toward a Covered California Plan or about $367 per month.

The Act also proposes providing other benefits and protections, including occupational accident insurance to cover on-the-job injuries, automobile accident and liability insurance, and protection against discrimination.

It would implement new safety protections for consumers and the public, including providing for recurring background checks of drivers, mandatory safety training, criminalizing impersonating an app-based driver, zero tolerance for drug and alcohol use, and banning drivers convicted of hate crimes and other serious felonies and offenses.

Protect consumers’ access to affordable and convenient rideshare and delivery services. By promoting worker flexibility, this ballot measure will protect the availability of rideshare and food and package delivery services that millions of Californians rely on every day. This includes transportation services that reduce impaired and drunk driving, improve mobility for seniors and the disabled, and provide new transportation options for families that cannot afford a vehicle.

Keep in mind that the above concerns the current situation in California, but such action will be replicated in others states as time goes along. We must become vigilant as to the progress on such activity.

You are all encouraged to get involved in the activity occurring in your state. Feel free to contact us if you need any relevant and current information about such activity. This is so important and relevant to entrepreneurial opportunities that sprout up in community by community and state by state.

We have members of both our families who drive for rideshare companies, and they all seem excited about their business growth and the opportunities that are coming before them. Whether it is short-term or extended duty, they find it rewarding and satisfying. We are proud of them.

Entrepreneurship is the key to wealth, and the above is a shining example of how it can work in today’s economy.

Mr. Alford is the Co-Founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce ®. Ms. DeBow is the Co-Founder, Executive Vice President of the Chamber. Website: www.nationalbcc.org Emails: halford@nationalbcc.org kdebow@nationalbcc.org

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