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2021: The Year of the Gig Worker

Dustin Walsey
December 21, 2020

It’s finally happening – 2021 is going to be the year of the gig worker. Many are working to make this long overdue reality happen, though this hasn’t always been the case. What’s changed?

2020 has seen gig drivers on the front lines since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, delivering essential supplies, food, and prescriptions to those forced to stay and work from home. They have been driving hospital workers and first responders to their jobs, unable to take mass transit due to possible exposure,  as well as giving rides to many in emergencies and for other necessities. 


As we start to look beyond this pandemic and past our lives in crisis, many will start going places and traveling, although with jubilation and caution. Those who have enjoyed the convenience of groceries and supplies showing up on their doorstep will continue to frequent stores less as they continue to leverage the conveniences of the delivery services. Demand for these services will only increase as people’s habits have forever changed. For these reasons, gig workers will forever be considered essential workers, and there’s no turning back. 


In 2020, we were all enlightened in terms of compassion, social responsibility, diversity, and inclusion. For the first time, businesses passionately took on causes and became part of movements like Black Lives Matter, environmental protection, and the importance of access to good healthcare. We all became more empathic and compassionate people – including high level executives of big corporations.   


Thankfully, we are starting to see a positive shift toward social consciousness and doing the right thing in business. Companies are waking up to the long underserved gig workforce, realizing the need and responsibility to provide benefits and services to support these critical workers. Buckle believes 2021 will see corporations offering some level of health benefits, among other necessary services, validating this new found compassion. 


Because gig drivers are essential workers, they should be near the front of the line for the COVID vaccine.  They have been some of the most critical people protecting us all from COVID, and will continue to do so. In early December, Uber sent a request to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asking for early access to the COVID-19 vaccine for their gig drivers. This year, Uber’s CEO has been vocal about its workers being essential, a shift in the right direction. 


DoorDash has been speaking out in favor of making the vaccine available on the onset for its drivers, also recently sending a letter to the CDC as well as many public officials. Lyft has also weighed in on the conversation in support of gig drivers, as well as Instacart. These companies are right!


Gig workers have earned our respect which they have long deserved. These wonderful people have taken great risk in 2020, exposing themselves to the virus, in service to others. They work to provide for us and the families they support. Where would we have been without them during this time? Not to mention their hard work ethic prior to COVID.


As we transition to life after the pandemic, a successful economic recovery must include essential gig drivers – working and thriving in 2021 and beyond. Fortunately, their windfall is coming, and Buckle will champion these drivers all the way.

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