Wave of Driver Action Prompts Airport Officials to Take Immediate Steps to Address Unsanitary Restrooms at LAX Driver Lot, Averting Spread of Disease and Impending Public Health Crisis
Los Angeles — Less than two weeks after launching a petition drive to improve restroom conditions at the Los Angeles International Airport rideshare holding lot, Uber and Lyft drivers with Mobile Workers Alliance have secured additional restrooms and handwashing stations, along with the promise of future improved facilities from Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) officials.
“This victory demonstrates the power of drivers coming together and standing united,” Uber driver and MWA organizer Linda Valdivia said. “As we continue our fight for AB5 enforcement and union rights despite Uber and Lyft’s continued efforts subvert the law and silence driver voices, wins like this strengthen our resolve and prove that we can do what many people claim is impossible.”
Drivers with Mobile Workers Alliance were forced to petition LAWA officials directly, as gig economy giants Uber and Lyft misclassify drivers as so-called “independent contractors,” robbing them of basic workplace protections like a guaranteed minimum wage and Cal/OSHA safety requirements.
Drivers will continue to push for the enforcement of Assembly Bill 5, a groundbreaking bill which sets the stage for rideshare drivers and other gig workers to be properly classified as employees, and which Uber, Lyft, and others have promised to spend millions to overturn through a deceptive ballot measure this fall.
In an email sent to Mobile Workers Alliance by LAWA, airport facilities management promised to add three additional portable lavatories, along with two additional handwashing stations, with scheduled twice daily maintenance.
“LAWA is also committed to meeting with your group to discuss viable alternatives,” director of airports labor relations Jorge Sanchez said in the email.
Mobile Workers Alliance began circulating petitions to improve the toilets on February 12 and collected more than 1,000 signatures in the first 24 hours. The petition drive was necessary due to the insufficient and unsanitary restroom facilities at the lot.
Prior to LAWA’s promise of additional facilities, there were only six portable toilets and a single handwashing station for the thousands of drivers who utilize the lot every day. The toilets were often filthy, with human waste and trash spilling over onto the walls, floor and surrounding areas.
Drivers forced to use the portable toilets do so at serious personal risk, with at least one driver being hospitalized after contracting severe conjunctivitis.
LAWA’s notice came just 24 hours before a planned driver demonstration at the lot, where dozens were slated to rally and demand change, before delivering thousands of petitions to LAWA staff.
Instead, drivers will be celebrating a victory lunch tomorrow.
“At the end of the day, we want respect like any other employee has. We want safe and sanitary working conditions, not just for ourselves, but for our passengers also,” MWA driver Jasmine Herrera said. “LAX is the second-busiest airport in the world and we drivers help keep it running. We applaud LAWA officials’ commitment to raising workplace standards for drivers, even in the face of Uber and Lyft’s rampant law breaking and outright negligence.”
The LAX TNC lot is the primary holding area for rideshare drivers waiting to pick up passengers at the airport. The lot holds about 300 cars at a time and is constantly churning as drivers come in and out, with most waiting for thirty minutes to an hour. The six toilets currently there are inadequate for the number of drivers and feature no running water. The unsanitary conditions imperil both drivers and their passengers.
Drivers who opt not to use the toilets must give up their place in line to find a clean restroom, which means losing an hour or more of working time. Since many drivers earn less than minimum wage after expenses, this is an enormous sacrifice just to take care of a basic human need.
In February, drivers with Mobile Workers Alliance began circulating a petition to improve the restrooms and gathered more than 1000 signatures in the first 24 hours.
The petition drive was necessary because drivers are misclassified as independent contractors and therefore not entitled to basic working standards that employers provide to employees.
Mobile Workers Alliance, a group of more than 15,000 Southern California drivers, has been fighting for drivers to be correctly classified as drivers, taking bold action to support the passage of AB5, including a three day, 1,000-mile caravan from Los Angeles to the Bay Area to Sacramento and back last August. With AB5 now established law, MWA drivers are calling on state officials to enforce it and demanding that gig companies like Uber and Lyft correctly classify drivers as employees.
Contact: Coral Itzcalli, (213) 321-7332 or Mike Long, (213) 304-9777Download PDF