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What a US congressman learned driving for Uber during recess



One American Airlines employee had an unexpected driver for her Uber ride back to Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport in April: the US representative for the district just south of the carrier’s headquarters and main hub.

It wasn’t his regular part-time job — a congressional salary is enough to pay the bills for now — rather, it was the latest in Marc Veasey’s quest to meet as many of his Texas constituents as possible.

“What really surprised me was how many people use Uber in Dallas-Fort Worth, even with the distance,” Veasey said in a phone interview with Business Insider from his Washington D.C. office. “It’s a lot more expensive here than in D.C.”

It’s far from the first odd-job Veasey, a Democrat who represents Texas’ 33rd congressional district, has worked in his time away from the House chamber. In past recesses, he’s worked for FedEx, a firehouse, and hotels. Uber, however, was his first taste of the massive and quickly growing gig economy.

“I think it’s pretty awesome,” he said. “This economy gives people the opportunity to participate at all levels if you want to. If you’re a single mom, a college student, if you’re someone who’s retired, you can also participate just by being a driver and having a phone.”

To be sure, while millions of drivers have found flexible work with a low barrier to entry on apps like Uber and Lyft, plenty of others attempting to use the platforms full-time have struggled to make ends meet. In Washington D.C, a Georgetown University study found many drivers take home weekly incomes that put them well below the federal poverty line, in addition to experiencing the loneliness that comes when your boss is an algorithm behind a phone screen.

Veasey says local regulations are the best answer to ensuring drivers are treated fairly, like the minimum wage rule in New York City, which was upheld by a state judge last week after being challenged by Lyft in a lawsuit. Caps on the number of drivers in an area, for example, are something Veasey said he could support.

“You hate to tell someone that they can’t participate in this economy,” he said. “I’m sure the people that have already made an investment in this and that want to do it as a full-time job probably appreciate knowing that there will be more available fares for them to really make this work for them.”

“How cities go about handling that in the future is going to be really interesting to see from a technology perspective” Veasey said.

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