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Uber Win: Settlement Allows Ridesharing Service to Keep Denying it Has 'Employees'


#1

Uber Win: Settlement Allows Ridesharing Service to Keep Denying it Has 'Employees'

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Ride sharing service Uber announced Thursday it settled two class action lawsuits, with the company agreeing to pay up to $100 million to workers and being able to continue to classify its drivers as "independent contractors."


#2

This is a complex issue. I think "Uber" is a perfect solution for people who have been out drinking and partying. Uber has become their "designated driver." The fact that a central source of traffic information can relay data to drivers in multiple locations is a brilliant idea. The fact that the Uber company is willing to do this, is genius.

My nephew, who hasn't been able to find a job for quite a while, decided to use his fairly new car to make money. He can make up to $700 a night and works five nights a week!

Yes, I understand about taxi unions, labor laws, safety of cars, benefits, etc., but on my recent trip to Montreal, Canada, I waited for half an hour for a taxi and was highly irritated. My daughter told me, mom, just call an Uber car. There's an APP on your phone. So, after that, it took no more than ten minutes to get a car to go anywhere I wanted...and the cost was less than a taxi.

Uber business in entrepenuerial genius! I think it's great to have the option of taxi vs Uber. But beware taxi co's. Uber is the future. Ride share is the future!


#3

Hey, who cares whether the driver has SS, healthcare benefits etc - as long as you can get a cab in 10 minutes, way to go!

If Uber is the future, Lord help us all ...


#5

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


#6

I agree. Automation is not being used to make "our lives easier," as I was taught in school. It has certainly made the lives of the 1% easier, but joblessness will only increase as more and more businesses automate and drive employers out of business or to firing employees. Pretty soon there won't be any bank tellers or grocery cashiers either. Robotics will replace many fast food workers, and janitorial services. Uber may provide a cheap service, but you get what you pay for.


#7

I didn't see it as a "disclaimer" ...

Of course he will say he is "for the worker" - and i suspect no one could survive with it as "primary income" ...

Another example of "employers" who want to make money of folks with no responsibility toward them whatsoever....


#8

We live in the "i" age, and want everything faster and faster .... without considering the price being paid ....


#9

Last time I called an Uber the driver was a my neighbor 2 streets down sitting on his couch and keeping an eye on the Uber app. He put some decent stuff on and gave me a ride to wherever I was going. He was happy with the work and pay. By the time we got to our destination he had another ride lined up.

It's a totally voluntary decision. Don't like it, stop giving rides to people. Be a traditional taxi driver. Oh wait, you have scheduled shifts and you actually have to be there 8 hours per day... well that sucks.


#10

Damn he makes $700 a night?

That's unbelievable. I understand most Uber drivers are making considerably less than $10/hour.


#11

Um, it's way different than hitch-hiking.

A) the driver is IDed and there is a record of the transaction
B) it isn't free
C) It's on demand. It's reliable, it's fast.

How are you any more likely to get murdered or raped by an Uber driver than you are by a cab driver, or by a personal trainer, or by a waiter, or by a landscaper, or by anyone else with whom you might interact? Pretty melodramatic, if you ask me.

The "ridesharing" model is a good model. It's decentralized, it's voluntary, there's no bosses, you set your own hours. Is it perfect? Not nearly. Is Uber going to rape and murder you? Come on.

The issue with Uber drivers being employees and being entitled to benefits is definitely something that needs to be navigated carefully. But the welfare state isn't exactly a shining beacon of social achievement itself, and there is something to be said for the decentralized, networked kind of social organization which Uber, in many ways, represents.

There are definitely problems with defining everyone as 'independent contractors'. But there are advantages to being independent, too. Being an employee sucks in a lot of ways. An economically just society of 'independent contractors' is better than an economically just society of 'employees'. Can you even have an economically just employer-employee relationship?

I'm not sayig Uber is ushering in the socialist Utopia. I'm just saying that this trajectory isn't all bad, and that instead of trying to hold back the tide we should learn to surf.


#12

No one wants to be a janitor or a fast food worker. If technology can eliminate those jobs, that's neither good nor bad in and of itself. It's a question of politics and economics whether technology is liberatory or exploitative.

Technology is a tool. We decide how our society is organized. If we can automate tasks that no one wants to do, then we should — that's brilliant. It's not a law of nature that people need to work shitty jobs in order to exist.

We shouldn't resist technological improvement out of attachement to the current system of economic exploitation. End the exploitation, and if we can score on some automation along the way, then good.


#13

What you say is true, but bank tellers, grocery cashiers and cab drivers can't eat technology. People still have to work even at low-paying, boring jobs. When society eventually makes the leap to ensure every worker displaced by technology is guaranteed an avenue in which to make a living wage at no cost to them, or a basic living income is guaranteed, then it makes sense to automate. But the cart is before the horse, and real people are paying the costs in lost work and income so the rest of us can save a few bucks. And most of us don't even think about the huge carbon footprint and environmental damage resulting from the development and manufacture of technology hardware, components, and circuitry.

A worker owned economy is looking better and better all the time.


#14

I wonder how many Uber drivers and all other sorts of "independent contractors" are skipping out of paying their full 15.3% SS/Medicare tax - and also exaggerating their business expenses on their schedule C? Also, how many of them are paying their quarterly estimated taxes on time? Many of them probably need to cheat on their taxes to survive like most 1099 Employ...er "independent contractors" do.

And the whole idea of this "independent contractor" is a sham. The Uber drivers still must send a big cut of their proceeds to a big-boss corporation who also dictates their rates, all the procedures associated with the smartphone app - including those utterly intrusive and petty driver and rider "evaluations" (on E-bay, I've had poor desperate "independent contractor" sellers practically order me to give them "5 stars")

And I gotta love you tapping your inner Ronnie Raygun with your "welfare state" remark.

If you have spent any time in the third world you would notice almost everyone is an "independent contractor" there too. It doesn't work to well.

And what, exactly is the Uber corporation doing for the billions they are raking in? They are nothing but sleazy rentier capitalists!

Now, if the Uber Drivers want to form a worker-owned-and-managed taxi cooperative that is based on a free open-source hailing phone app, I'd be all for that. But I see no movement toward this idea from any of these unabashed "leftists for Uber and other big 'high tech' rentier capitalists" like you.


#15

Please stop calling Uber "ride sharing". It is a taxi service. and Uber-X is jsut a re-invention of the jitneys of the poor, under-transit-served black USAn neighborhoods, called "por puestos" of poor Latin American cities.

Sure, Uber uses a patented smartphone app that is held by a monopoly corporation and unavailable to would-be competition like traditional cab companies to hail the cabs instead of a phone call or waving an arm, but that is the only difference from the customer end.

At the driver end, it is a more exploitative syatem. Sure, Uber drivers right now can earn reasonable pay (if they cheat on their taxes) - but watch what happens as more drivers enter the syatem in a race to the bottom for fares?

And Montreal has an excellent public transit system which would have been vastly cheaper and perhaps even faster than Uber or the taxi - why didn't you consider that? Of course, that is one of the purposes of Uber - to ultimately do away with "socialistic" public transit.


#16

Yunzer,
You make some good points, and yes, I've thought about the things you said. Like I said in my comment....the subject is complex. I certainly don't have all the answers.

As for the public transit in Montreal.....the area where I was staying was a bit far from public transit access. As I've gotten older, I can't walk as far as I could when younger....and talk about complicated? The machines that sell passes require only Canadian money in a lot of places--and correct change--and a picture ID to get a senior discount. It was all too much for me to handle. I was there for 10 days for my son's wedding, and there was a lot of back and forth, visiting each of the relatives "airB&B's.....all located from one end of the city to the other. Made me dizzy.

When I mentioned "ride-sharing," from my perspective, I am looking at it as a way to put to use all the "individual" cars we have out on the roads. If someone can make a little money (extra or not) by providing rides for others, that's a good thing. They are choosing to do that. It's not forced on them by some company. I think of it as a very "Socialist" type behavior. The Uber Company that controls the system.....yes, perhaps they will evolve into something more cooperative, but the service they provide right now, in my opinion, is very helpful.


#17

Devogenes,
I just spoke to my sister again, about my nephew. I apologize for getting the info wrong. He makes around $700 for "35 hrs." of work.....not a night! Sorry. But the fact is, he wasn't making ANY money before. He loves what he's doing, and says he meets a lot of interesting people.


#18

You're so excitable.

Read my posts, I'm not "for Uber." But the Internet and networked technology exists. It's not going away, and it holds great potential. We can try to harness it, or we can look to the State to legislate it out of existence in order to maintain the traditional system of wage exploitation. Have you read Multitude by Negri and Hardt?

And yeah, sure, I'm Ronald Regan because I said that the welfare state is not the pinnacle of social progress? That's pretty interesting. Perhaps this is just a reflection of your USAn education, that you view the word 'welfare' in such a loaded way. The U.S is a wellfare state, as are all the other "Western" democracies. If I'm Ronald Regan for not thining that the wellfare state is the end goal, then I guess Marx, Kropotkin, Bakunin, Maletesta, Negri, Chomksi, etc etc etc. We're all Ronald Regean, right? Of course we are.

You wave a red and black flag in your profile picture, and then you flip your kettle over a passing criticism of the wellfare state, and accuse me of being a capitalist? =|

You latched onto the first part, ignored the second, and seem to have missed the 's.

Being an employee sucks. A free association of workers is, essentially, an association of "independent contractors". Is Uber that? No, but we could make it so.

I actually work as an "independent contractor" in a different field, which is very much being affected in the exact same way. I don't earn much money, but I set my own schedule and my own hours and no one tells me how to dress.

The problem with Uber and other platforms like this is that they are operated in accordance with the capitalist principles of our society, and are therefore extremely exploitative. So end the exploitation, don't end the improved service model.


#19

Paula,

Bit off-topic - but when you visit Canada, you don't get Canadian currency? How do you pay for anything? Your debit or credit card works in Canada (and everywhere else in the world) so you just go and get cash in the local currency at any ATM machine. Right now, $50 Canadian only costs $40 US. Also, I always visit the transit authority web sites of any large city I visit so I know ahead of time the routes and fares I'll be using.


#20

I used my credit card. I also checked all the routes, etc., so did my much younger than me, daughter. They gave up as well as I did......too much distance between access and destinations we were heading to. Congratulations on being so smart Yunzer.


#21

A "free association of workers" is not a anything like a group of independent contractors. The worker association works for the goals of the collectively owned and managed worker enterprise, with everyone having a say in managing it, and empowering and non-empowering tasks shared equally. In short, true libertarian (classical socialist libertarianism, not the peculiar US form) entails this thing called "solidarity" which is absent in an "independent contractor" engaged in an antagonistic relations with his or her fellow workers in a "free market" race to the bottom.

And unlike your experience, I really like being an employee (for the US federal government). We have levels of camaraderie, workplace equality (the pay spread from GS-5 Clerk to POTUS is only a factor of 8 or 10) , technical competence and access to professional development that exceeds anything I generally see in my field (civil engineering) in the private sector employers I used to work for. Oh, and I'm actually going to be able to have a retirement in just another seven years...

And sorry about the sarcastic reaction, but if you don't believe in the "welfare state" - i.e. a guaranteed social wage, housing, and healthcare for all members of a society, what do you propose replacing it with?