Kathryn Davis: Contractors taken advantage of across industries | TheUnion.com

Kathryn Davis: Contractors taken advantage of across industries

Other Voices
Kathryn Davis

The Union’s Editorial Board is obviously up in arms about restrictions of pending legislation to prohibit use of contractor status for folks delivering newspapers.

I get it, the prospect of paying for benefits, minimum wage, and other costs of doing business for employees could be prohibitive. However, I do take great exception to the characterization of this work and the workers.

Our papers are not being delivered by Johnny on his bicycle. Out of what you pay them, these folks have to cover car expenses like insurance, gas, payments and repairs/maintenance. The idea that these delivery jobs are a “supplemental income” is far from true as many of these people are trying to eke out an existence on what you pay them. How much is that exactly?

I have a friend who often sings the praises of her “Union” delivery person,” she even makes the effort to let “The Union” know what a great job they have done. So while you take credit for the great service, would she be surprised to learn that if one of these folks needs a couple of days to get over bronchitis or to grieve for a lost loved one that their only option is to find a substitute driver on their own and lose their income for those days?

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How many times have your delivery contractors forsaken self-care for fear of losing this income; do you even know? They do not get sick pay, or bereavement leave, or a vacation because they are “contractors.” My point: are you doing the best you can by these people who are viewed as your employees regardless of their category? I would wager that you could do more for them within their current status and keep your newspaper afloat.

Contractors in these types of jobs are taken advantage of across industries. While the impetus for this legislation was Uber and Lyft there are many more who are the working poor in our communities, working as contractors and temporary employees.

Since the recession, millions more people are being forced into these categories by employers reducing expenses and improving their bottom line. These are the Americans working multiple jobs to scrape together a living wage. Tough problem. Just maybe a little less whining and exploring ways that the playing field could be leveled, or at least improved.

It is what you pay these folks, since you are prohibited from providing other benefits. I imagine that there are many more ways, at a minimum, to let these folks know you give a damn about them and their well-being. Do my friends’ compliments for her delivery person, sent to The Union, ever reach them in the form of increased compensation?

Kathryn Davis lives in Grass Valley.


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