Uber, Lyft drivers come out for requesting for the employee status and also for unionizing
About 14,000 drivers who are working for uber, Lyft and other raid-hailing app companies have planned and signed the union cards, which is the major show to support ad get recognition as the employees of the company.
All the drivers gathered and they went on a rally outside the Taxi and Limousine Commission office, requesting the agency to arrange a union election for them. TLC said that, that is not its responsibility to do so.
The commissioner of TLC, Meera Joshi, said that, TLC completely has no role in unionization. They have huge responsibilities in driver protections, and it is one of the important aspects in their rule making and regulatory processes.
The raid-hailing companies, Uber and Lyft treat their drivers as the independent contractors not as the employees and the New York drivers are requesting for support to join the Amalgamated Transit Local Union. The National Labor Relationship board that recognizes the unions and act as a bridge to communicate the labor disputes, but it does not recognize that the independent contractors in the companies also get the same protections as like the employees.
A year back, the New York drivers have protested against the fare cuts and they demanded for the tipping option. Benn Dictor, who is the labor lawyer and he is also the partner at Eisner and associate firm, said that, the independent contractors do not have the bargaining rights. If the independent contractor becomes the member then they get the rights to access the benefits and they have the collective and a stronger voice in the industry. Joining the industry is one of the best ways to pool political and economic powers and it is one of the chances to push the industry forward to the next level.
Drivers who work for, the startup raid-hailing app companies are struggling to get recognition as employees, they are requesting through the courts and the local legislations and they get mixed results for this. At the end of the year, the lawmakers passed an ordinance entitling Lyft and Uber drivers to the union representatives.
Uber has planned to take legal action against the drivers in California and Massachusetts and they denied the employee status for the drivers and awarded them with $100 million. The federal judge said that, $100 million is not sufficient for them. And the $100 million is just 0.1% of the verdict value of the case, which is very small portion of the $100 million.
The New York Taxi Workers Alliance group filed a similar case on behalf of all the Uber drivers in New York.
The NLRB has filed a case against the University of Columbia, because it permits the graduate students who are working as adjunct professors as employees and they have the right to unionize.
The labor lawyer, Dictor, said that, there are so many cases which involve the independent contractors are requesting for the recognition as employees and the law does not change when there is a shift in the country towards the gig economy.
This process is a case by case analysis. The classification challenges can be bought before the NLRB, IRS and also with other federal agencies. This is not the efficient way to solve the problem. The problem is about the labor forces who are seeking for justice.
The Amalgamated Union Drive is the competitor for many labor organizations which are involved in the ride-share drivers in the city of New York. Uber came to an agreement with the Independent Drivers Guild that they agree to the representatives of the 35,000 drivers within the New York City. The guild has agreed to meet with the management once in a week for the five years, they should provide discounts for the drivers for the legal services, and they should also provide the supplemental disability and life insurance, road side assistance and other resources also.
The guild does not have the rights to bargain formally and it has promised not to support the driver unions and not to form them without having the employee status. But the status may change at any time.
James Conigliar, the founder of the guild and attorney of Machinists, said that, Machinists can help the drivers to unionize and the drivers can be recognized as the employees at any time. It is the only union that permits the New York black drivers to form the union in the past 20 years and it is the union that negotiates the key protections. It has the best position to win the real change.
Lyft and Uber spokesperson said that, in the petitions, the employer names are missing in the required field. And the drivers have the right to switch between the apps.
The other issue for the drivers is that, Uber lowered the fares of the rides. Drivers are struggling to get their old income back. In New York, the base fare was reduced to $2.55 from $3; the per-mile-rate was reduced to $1.75 from $2.15 and the per-minute rate was reduced to 35 cents from 40 cents.
John Zapata, the Uber driver, said that, he used to make $400 or more than that per day. They have worked for more time that before to earn the same amount as before. Sometimes, they get only $3 and they have to wait for some long time to get the rides.
If the person decides to work as a full time driver in Uber, then he has to work for 60 to 70 hours a week. Drivers spend most of the time at work in order to have a living. If the wages are low, the work time will increase and higher the wages then lower the work time.
The raid-sharing company, Uber, dropped the wages much more, so, the drivers spent 15 to 17 hours in working to make money. One of the drivers said that, he has worked for 15 hours a day, which means that he works 90 hours a week. Later, Uber announced officially that, it is going to offer the New York City drivers the most flexible and the best earning opportunity. There is more competition for the New York drivers than before in the car industry, this competition is heavier in New York when compared to other parts of the world. The company is aiming to make Uber the first choice for the drivers, so the company is closing working with the drivers and it tries to listen to the feedbacks from the drivers and try to rectify them, the company also got the suggestions from the drivers to improve the app better.
Uber’s spokesperson said that, many people like the bus drivers joined the crowd to protest against Uber, when it announced the cut down of the fares.
Many drivers were too busy; they were working very hard to make their living, they didn’t have time for two hours to be free. And the parking space was limited, so the drivers faced problems with parking also.
The next issue for the drivers is that, 12-hour limit, how long the drivers can push up. It is for the benefit of the drivers, Uber and Lyft permits them to earn more money.
The chair of the Labor Committee and the former president of ATU, Daneek Miller, said that, the steps will be taken to fulfill the Uber, Lyft and other raid-sharing app companies’ driver’s requirements and also to give them the power to unionize.
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