Coronavirus crisis: Lyft tells drivers to work for Amazon after ridership drops
Amazon.com Inc. is teaming up with Lyft Inc. on recruiting the ride-hailing company’s drivers to deliver packages and groceries as the pandemic keeps people indoors.
In an email to Lyft drivers Friday, the company referred them to work opportunities at Amazon as grocery shoppers, warehouse workers or delivery people “as a way to earn additional income right now". The message from Lyft, which came in response to plummeting demand for rides and economic hardships facing drivers, also indicated that drivers could qualify for compensation in the U.S. stimulus bill.
While Amazon and Lyft have competed for workers in the past, the surge in grocery and package deliveries has reset that dynamic. Amazon said last week it plans to hire 100,000 people and give U.S. workers a temporary $2-an-hour raise in an effort to meet the crushing demand. However, Amazon is under fire for not doing enough to protect its workers, some of whom have tested positive for the coronavirus. The company said it has stepped up cleaning in its warehouses and is giving guidelines to workers about maintaining safe distances.
Declines in the ride-hailing business are sharp. Recent estimates put a drop in fare prices at as much as 11% and demand at about 20%. Uber Technologies Inc., the largest ride-hailing operator, can partly offset the shortfall with its restaurant delivery business, which is seeing an uptick. Lyft doesn’t deliver food.
In the email to drivers reviewed by Bloomberg, Lyft suggested that in addition to seeking immediate work with Amazon, drivers could sign up to help deliver groceries, Covid-19 tests and other medical supplies as part of future partnership programs. Lyft said more than 100,000 drivers had already signed up.
Lyft urged drivers to follow federal health guidelines and suggested installing a plastic barrier in their vehicles, along with a link to buy such a kit on Amazon. A Lyft spokeswoman declined to specify terms of the arrangement with Amazon.