How Prop. 22 Helped Empower This Working Mom During the Pandemic

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By Adaneli Gutierrez, Riverside

Last spring, my family, like so many others, confronted what seemed like the impossible: COVID-job loss, school closures, and the general anxiety that comes with keeping yourself and your children safe from a virus hospitalizing scores of people.

With all of these new challenges, I have been forced to make many difficult choices. One of the most challenging decisions though was choosing between working to provide an income for my family or leaving my job to ensure my children and grandchildren were cared for and protected.

With DoorDash, I could do both. Between being a mom, a grandmother, and a full-time teacher, I could make deliveries when, where and how I wanted, and that’s exactly why, before the pandemic, I started doing deliveries with DoorDash. As a Dasher, I could support my family financially and emotionally, show up for my community at a time when people needed to stay home, and not miss a beat at home. But none of this would have been possible without Proposition 22.

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Prop. 22 protected this flexible, independent work at a time when I needed it most. After job losses due to the pandemic, my adult children and their families had moved back in with me. With two more adults and two more kids, the size of my household – and the amount it cost to run it – more than doubled overnight. Like so many others, I worried about the toll the pandemic would have on my income, but thanks to Proposition 22 and the protections it brought to being a dasher, I was able to set my own hours, earn additional wages, and receive a stipend to offset healthcare costs that I know millions of others like me could not have made it through this year without.

Unfortunately, not all women have that kind of flexibility, which forced many to leave the workforce when the pandemic hit to manage childcare and family responsibilities. A report by the Center for American Progress shows that roughly 865,000 women – compared with just 216,000 men, left the workforce during the pandemic. If it wasn’t for the passage of California’s Proposition 22, I would have been in the same position as these nearly 1 million women, and my family’s finances would have suffered as I left the workforce.

The other Dashers I talk to online have similar things to say — that the platforms and their earnings have improved since Prop. 22 took effect. Earnings through platforms like DoorDash were a safety net during the pandemic, and have helped us navigate an uncertain recovery while ensuring we can pay the bills. If my experience as a mom trying to do it all — protect my family and provide a good quality of life — is any indication, the number one reason people like me choose to work on app-based platforms is the flexibility inherent in the work. I can work around my kids’ distance learning schedules, and help build my family’s financial security – without sacrificing anything.

The past 18-plus months have been hard on all of us, but especially difficult for working mothers. When the pandemic assaulted California, I had already been driving on the DoorDash platform to earn additional income. Back then, I had no idea just how much this work would eventually benefit me, my family, and my community, but even more, I did not understand how impactful Prop 22 would be when it became law in December of last year.

The pandemic caused nearly 1 million women to leave the workforce. Thankfully, I was one of the lucky ones who could continue to work, bringing in income how and when I pleased. As so many women continue the balancing act of raising children during an ever-evolving response to COVID-19, I am certain that countless women nationwide are in need of the same protection I was ensured in California under Proposition 22.

*Opinions expressed in guest op-eds do not necessarily reflect the views of IECN.

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