Amazon delivery drivers rallied in Los Angeles today to demand the company follow DoorDash, Uber, Lyft and other gig work providers by helping to offset surging gas costs for their drivers.
The Amazon Flex drivers, independent contractors who deliver Amazon packages via an app much like DoorDash, use their own vehicles and their own gas for deliveries. Gas prices have risen to over $4 a gallon in most of the country due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which sent oil prices sky-high.
Uber and Lyft added gas surcharges to user rides to ease drivers' pain at the pump. Meanwhile, DoorDash launched a "Gas Rewards Program" that gives U.S. delivery drivers a prepaid business Visa credit card to earn 10% cash back on gas to offset the wild increase in prices. All three companies have said the measures are temporary, though it's unclear when prices will return to normal.
Amazon, in contrast, has not offered any kind of gas offset or bonus for Flex drivers. Some of the rallying Flex drivers told CNBC that up to half of their pay was going toward gas now that prices have increased, and that some are opting for other jobs or to drive for other contracting companies instead.
Switching to electric or hybrid vehicles could also be one way for drivers to save money on gas, but the EV market remains inaccessible for most lower-income drivers, and they make up the majority of the ride-hailing and Flex driving population. Companies like Uber and Lyft have pledged to help get drivers into electric vehicles as a way to offset the emissions of gas-powered cars, and Amazon has also pledged to transition some of its delivery fleet to electric (though those EVs wouldn't be for the contracted Flex drivers).
"Our delivery partners play a vital role in serving customers every day," Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in a statement to Protocol. "We’re closely monitoring the situation and listening to their concerns. Amazon Flex delivery partners earn among the best in the industry at over $26 per hour on average. We've already made several adjustments through pricing surges in impacted areas to help ease some of the financial challenges and as the situation evolves, we’ll continue to make changes where we can to help support our partners."