Jonathan Van Ness defends Uber Eats campaign as company moves to strip workers of vital rights
Jonathan Van Ness has defended his role in an Uber Eats campaign after the company moved to block their workers of vital employment rights in California.
In an Instagram direct message sent Monday (23 November), a user pressed the Queer Eye star over his campaign with Uber’s food delivery platform, which sees him flex his gymnastic skills.
The ad quickly drew criticism from anti-LGBT+ puritanical groups, such as One Million Moms, among other conservatives – essentially roiling the crowd it intended to do flawlessly.
But Van Ness left some social media users rattled over his response to someone questioning his involvement in the campaign at the same time that Uber jockeyed to pass legislation that meant they could treat their workers as independent contractors rather than employees.
Van Ness stressed the importance of the advertisement for non-binary representation as well as him not being able to vote on the ballot Proposition 22.
JVN thinks …. uber and uber eats are different companies …… pic.twitter.com/L7qmVucv4A
— coach, im gay (@welostnathan) November 23, 2020
Firstly, what is Proposition 22?
California’s Proposition 22 was a ballot held on 3 November to decide whether gig economy apps could continue not classifying their workers as employees.
Tech companies framed it as a crucial step in consolidating their low-cost service business model.
But to opponents, it was a devastating blow to labour rights, stonewalling Uber workers from access to a minimum wage, health insurance, unemployment benefits and more.
Prop 22 was passed with 58 per cent of the vote, allowing Uber and Lyft to avoid complying with Assembly Bill 5, a California law that requires companies treat their workers as employees.
Jonathan Van Ness: ‘This was a campaign that brought a non-binary person into homes all over the country’
According to screen captures of the chat posted to Twitter, Nathan, based in Brooklyn, New York, asked Van Ness: “It would mean a lot to a lot of people if you were to pull out from your involvement from Uber and denounce their electioneering.”
This was a reference to Uber’s strategies to shore up support for the proposal in the run-up to a public vote, which were considered by experts as “untraditional and aggressive”, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The app pinged users with a notification that claimed if they do not vote for Prop 22, prices will be spiked and drivers may lose jobs. As a whole, Prop 22 was heavily bankrolled by Uber and Lyft.
Van Ness hit back: “This was a national campaign that got to bring a non-binary person into the homes of people all over the country.
“That’s visibility that a child like me could’ve really used and, along with the rest of my platform, I’m using it to advocate for a myriad of issues.
“From racial equality to improving the HIV social safety net to achieving LGBTQ equality. If you followed my career you would know that.”
Van Ness then stressed that he does not live in California so, as a result, could not vote on Prop 22. As the ad campaign wasn’t for Uber’s ride-sharing service, he said, Nathan’s query “doesn’t make sense”.
“Kisses, Nathan,” he added.
Nathan replied: “Non-binary people (and the parents of non-binary people) drive for Uber/Uber Eats (same company), too.
“We’ll see how Prop 22 pans out for them. Kisses.”
Twitter criticises Queer Eye guru for Uber comments
Van Ness’ comments drew criticism from users, as detractors denounced him for appearing to prioritise representation above all else.
a non-binary capitalist is still a capitalist https://t.co/nCU279rWvM
— Abolish Police & Prisons (@jxckchilli) November 24, 2020
Queer white celebrities will always use their queerness as a commodity to erase their bias toward receiving money from huge industrial forces. Representation doesn't matter when it comes from the higher class using their puppets to sell us shit. https://t.co/D7flFWdp7L
— SpaceCowBoy (@truantmexican) November 24, 2020
using this to remind everyone that i am non-binary so any bad thing i do is actually fine cause representation https://t.co/cpKIPITk44
— heathen (@_heathj) November 24, 2020
exploitative employment practises can be queer too ??? https://t.co/l1OSePC8qQ
— Jack (@JackWrighton) November 24, 2020
— blaaake (@jblakecooley) November 24, 2020
PinkNews has contacted Jonathan Van Ness for comment.