An Uber driver was murdered. His household is pleading for the corporate’s assist.


Ahmad Fawad Yusufi, 31, was sleeping in his automobile within the car parking zone of a San Francisco playground round 5 a.m. on November 28 when somebody walked as much as the automobile, tried to steal his pockets, and shot him to demise. Yusufi, an Afghan immigrant who had arrived in america on a particular visa after serving as a translator for the US navy, had come into town from his residence in Sacramento to drive for Uber and was attempting to get some relaxation between shifts.

Since that terrible night time Yusufi’s household, which incorporates his brother and his spouse and three kids, have been determined for solutions, and now they’re saying Uber must do its half to assist. In a letter to the corporate launched at this time by way of the labor group Gig Employees Rising, Yusufi’s brother Mohammed, who goes by the title Ilyas and refers to Ahmad as a brother, outlined three calls for: entry to Yusufi’s Uber account, $4 million in quick assist to be paid to the household, and higher pay for all Uber drivers. (Ilyas additionally works as a driver for the corporate.)

Uber initially responded to the homicide by saying Yusufi “seemed to be offline” on the time of the taking pictures, and declined to share any logs or documentation of his account exercise together with his household or the press.

Within the letter, Ilyas challenged whether or not being offline on the app meant that Yusufi was not working for Uber, highlighting one of many core drawbacks of gig work. “My brother Ahmad was killed whereas driving in your firm. You lied whenever you advised the press that he wasn’t working for Uber on the time he was killed. He was in San Francisco to work for Uber … He’d stopped for a break after working for Uber that night time.”

Yusufi moved to California from Afghanistan three years in the past—a essential security measure after his time spent aiding the US navy. Yusufi was a core supplier for the household, Ilyas says, and although they’re attempting to get by by way of measures together with a GoFundMe web page, Yusufi’s spouse and youngsters are with out satisfactory monetary means.

Rising security considerations

Gig drivers within the US are not any strangers to violent crime. A current investigation by the Wall Avenue Journal revealed that whereas the corporate declined to share statistics, drivers account for 11% of the carjackings in Minneapolis, and a report from the Markup in July tallied 124 confirmed carjackings and tried carjackings of ride-share drivers over the earlier 12 months and half. 

Uber has rolled out a number of new security options, similar to speedy entry to 911 dispatchers, the power to broadcast GPS coordinates to police responders, and an audio recording choice launched this month. However by some measures that is one of the vital harmful jobs within the nation, and a few drivers and labor teams, just like the Unbiased Drivers Guild, have accused the corporate of not doing sufficient to maintain its employees secure. Some have began taking issues into their very own fingers, toting pepper spray, putting in safety cameras, and even carrying weapons.

Yusufi is one among many Afghan refugees dwelling in Sacramento who drive for Uber in San Francisco, the place there may be extra demand for rides (some 56% of all gig employees in San Francisco are immigrants). Ilyas says Yusufi left Sacramento for the Bay Space on Friday, November 26, to work for Uber and slept in his automobile as he may between rides—a standard apply for drivers who can not afford lodge rooms. In response to Ilyas, a buddy who was additionally a driver and current with Yusufi stated they have been resting within the automobile on the time of the taking pictures.

Uber permits drivers to remain lively on the app for only12 hours earlier than requiring a six-hour break, a transfer meant to make sure safer using circumstances. Throughout breaks, naps, or meals, drivers will flip off their app in order to maximise their time obtainable for earning profits. 

Within the letter, Ilyas says that the low wages of Uber drivers “sustains such precarious working circumstances that a whole bunch of Afghan drivers drive from Sacramento to San Francisco every week and sleep of their automobiles in unsafe environments—simply to earn sufficient every week to supply for his or her households.” 

What counts as work

Uber has not but responded to the letter, although the corporate is in contact with the household. In a press release to MIT Know-how Overview earlier than the letter was launched, an Uber spokesperson stated, “We’re saddened by this mindless act of violence that took Mr. Yusufi’s life. Our hearts exit to his household throughout this troublesome time.” 

With out solutions from the San Francisco Police Division, Ilyas and his brother’s household are determined to be taught extra concerning the circumstances of Yusufi’s demise. Ilyas has tried to entry Yusufi’s Uber account and says that it has been disabled. He has tried to succeed in out to Uber relating to the problem and says Uber has replied that it’s towards their coverage. 

On December 5, native information channel ABC10 reported that Uber stated Yusufi “seemed to be offline” on the time of the taking pictures. 

In a cellphone dialog with MIT Know-how Overview, an Uber spokesperson stated that Yusufi wasn’t lively on the app from midnight to five a.m. on November 28, across the time police responded to the state of affairs, however was lively on November 27. Uber declined to reveal the related instances. The corporate additionally declined to supply documentation of Yusufi’s driving logs to MIT Know-how Overview when requested, citing privateness considerations.

Yusufi’s case cuts to the center of a contentious debate about whether or not gig employees qualify as an organization’s workers. California state legislation has gone forwards and backwards on the problem over the previous few years, and in 2020, Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart spent about $200 million to foyer in favor of a measure that will exclude gig employees from advantages similar to paid breaks. That legislation, Proposition 22, was handed in 2020 however has been struck down by a choose as unconstitutional. Gig employees will stay unprotected because the appeals course of performs out.

For Yusufi’s household, whether or not he was actively utilizing the Uber app on the time of the taking pictures is irrelevant. From their perspective, Ilyas says, he was in San Francisco to drive for Uber. “We’re refugees on this nation. We don’t have good data. We’re new,” he says. “We don’t have somebody to again us up. They’ll do something they need.”

Correction: A earlier model of this story referred to Ilyas as Ahmad Yusufi’s cousin. They’re truly brothers.


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