Huck Konopacki: from Labor Notes
A new organization called the “Independent Drivers Guild” has been formed to represent an estimated 35,000 Uber in New York. This guild was founded by Uber and the Machinists union and will give drivers a process to appeal their terminations and will form a new “Works Council” intended to give them a voice in communicating with management.
As reported by Labor Notes, however, “it’s not a union, it has no collective bargaining rights, and it receives financial support from Uber”.
In an article “Putting the Con in the Gig Economy” they describe how in New York City up until the 1980’s taxi drivers were considered as employees and many were unionized. The industry then transformed to leases where drivers paid to use the cabs and taxi licenses. Taxi drivers then became independent contractors, and their unions were broken.
Now along comes Uber, with all the hallmarks of the employee system—it sets fares, controls dispatches, and takes a commission—yet it claims its drivers are independent contractors… This dodge allows Uber to weasel out of Social Security and Medicare taxes and to cheat drivers of legal guarantees to minimum wage, overtime protections, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and the right to organize and bargain collectively.
The report that prior to the Guild being formed, Taxi Workers and the Machinists had been planning a joint campaign to organize Uber drivers in New York. They quoted Bhairavi Desai, head of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance as saying: “What we didn’t know was that, behind the scenes, they were engaging with Uber to sell everyone out,” and went on to call the Guild an “immoral, illegal, unconscionable company union”.
The Taxi Drivers consider the Guild to be an illegal “company-dominated labor organization.” and are challenging Uber in courts and regulatory bodies to rule the drivers employees. The full article can be found at: Putting the Con in the Gig Economy