As if the $100 million settlement for a couple of class-action lawsuits were not enough, Uber drivers are stepping up their efforts to have a stronger voice in the behemoth ride-hailing company.
In a bid to get better benefits, representation and a stand for themselves, Uber drivers are teaming up with the Teamsters Union to form a new App-Based Drivers Association (ABDA), a drivers' group that is found in other states.
The Teamsters Union welcomes the enthusiastic move of the Uber drivers. "By coming together, the Teamsters will help these drivers have a stronger voice and improve standards for rideshare drivers in California," said Rome Aloise, international vice president for Teamsters and president of Teamsters Joint Council 7.
Teamsters claims to have helped driver groups in the tech automotive industry, particularly those from Silicon Valley companies like Apple, Google, Yahoo, Facebook and e-Bay that need shuttle services for their employees.
While the Teamsters Union takes pride in supporting the plight of drivers with independent contractor status, Aloise himself is quite unsure of the details of the Teamsters-Uber drivers partnership and the number of drivers joining.
Elsewhere, other employment advocacy groups have made efforts at unionizing drivers. In New York, the National Labor Relations Board is hearing a formal dispute between two unions, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the International Association of Machinists, over which group will represent LaGuardia airport-based drivers.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees based in New Orleans and the Service Employees International Union in Florida have both been working to organize drivers.
The efforts of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance and App-Based Drivers Associations in Washington, New Jersey and California have also been cited by Rebecca Smith, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project, an employment advocacy group.
Even as the NLRB has declared that Uber drivers cannot legally join a union because of their contractor classification, ride-hailing drivers in Seattle won the right to engage in collective bargaining in December. Surprisingly, a California legislation that would allow on-demand drivers to unionize was recalled by sponsoring legislator Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego, saying more time is needed to debate on the topic.
A $100 million settlement forged on April 21 may have resolved the California and Massachusetts lawsuits but it looks like the Uber drivers aren't happy. The drivers are still considered contractors, not employees. They are likely to ask for more.
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