During my sophomore year of college, I suffered from an untreated and undiagnosed mental illness and ended up with a $1,000 medical bill. As a result, I took a break from school, and my four-year degree became a two-year degree. Although I appreciated the time I took off to attend to my self-care needs, I felt I was now very behind in the race I started. It was hard finding a job with my degree that would pay above minimum wage. I began working for UberEats part-time to supplement my income but quickly realized the unjust working conditions and compensation. Something had to change.
Over these last decades, young people all over the country have had to dig themselves into thousands of dollars in debt in order to find a living wage job or career. Others who don’t have higher education as a viable option have had to hold multiple minimum or below-minimum wage jobs. Unfortunately, with the onslaught of the pandemic, whether you held a degree or not, everyone was having trouble finding or keeping their jobs. Others have had to start gig work due to the uncertain job market. However, gig work does not guarantee a minimum hourly wage or workers’ benefits, which opens up a plethora of opportunities for young workers to be exploited.
Fortunately, YI is pushing for a Young Workers’ Bill of Rights, which will include protections for gig workers and bring more awareness to apprenticeships or alternative career pathways for youth. This includes those affected by the foster care and judicial system. Lawmakers should focus on the opportunity to grant gig workers rights, such as changing the classification to full-time employees and not independent contractors. This change in classification would also allow them to unionize and create more rights for gig workers for companies such as Uber, Lyft, and Doordash.
Samantha is a community advocate who offers a unique educational experience on grassroot movements for legislative or community advocates.