Drivers of the app based taxi service companies are agitated with their employers as they seem to neglect the driver’s demands however reasonable it might be. A 36 year old driver from Brooklyn told the media that Lyft and Uber doesn’t even listen to the driver’s voice and he also said that the reason behind the rudeness of the companies towards its own drivers is that it having so many drivers and if any problem is caused by a single driver or even a group of drivers they don’t hesitate to cancel their permits at any time.
About 14,000 drivers attached with Uber, Lyft and few other companies who provide taxi through apps on demand basis, decided to form a union. They raised a petition in favor of unionization for them and they even conducted a rally to support and endorse the same. The drivers rallied outside of the Taxi & Limousine Commission office in Long Island City said they signed union cards in an effort to join the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 to fight against the fall of pay, strict driver policies handed down by management and too much of commission they are charged with by the apps for each of their ride. They planned to deliver the signed cards to the National Labor Relations Board to start the process for unionizing the city’s hail-ride type of drivers who work for companies who offer service through apps. A driver who took the initiative to collect the cards from the Uber, Lyft and other app drivers from Laguardia and Kennedy airports states that he was surrounded by the drivers who wanted to share their own story with him. After listening to few, he became damp sure that every driver is undergoing a plight in their life due to the companies and most of them are found bleeding their own money.
Demands put forth by the drivers
- The drivers claim that there has been a drastic cut in pay rates, incentives and other incomes though referrals which was initially their point of attraction towards the company leaving back the other taxi services and rental service that would be provided by individuals. Even after such kind of treatment by the employers, the drivers are hesitating to track back because of the loss of reputation in the previous employer and loss of personnel regular customers.
- Strict policies and regulations are being embossed on them considering the safety of the passengers by the government. The regulations are framed without considering the driver’s perspective of problems that they might face.
- Initially there was a small amount that has to be paid to the companies who own and maintain the app as commission and that helped the drivers to earn for a very reasonable living. However gradually the commission was increased multiple times stating some extra feature has been provided for them and it is payable, which is mandatory though.
Uber and Lyft drivers are considered by their employers as independent contractors, meaning the New York drivers’ cards pledging support for joining the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 are not direct employees, at least to some extent. The National Labor Relations Board is the federal agency that formally recognizes unions and mediates labor disputes, and it does not recognize independent contractors as deserving of the same protections as employees which would add in to the problems being faced by the drivers as they might receive less or no support from the board.
Similar such protest happened last year in New York which was conducted by the Uber drivers against the fare cuts and demanded a provision for passengers to tip
Labor lawyer Ben Dictor, a partner at the firm Eisner & Associates, explained in an email that while independent contractors lack formal bargaining rights, “becoming a member can give an independent contractor access to benefits and a stronger, collective voice within their industry.” He added that drivers working for app startups around the country are fighting for formal recognition as employees, in court and through local legislation, with mixed results. In Seattle, lawmakers passed an ordinance in December entitling Uber and Lyft drivers to union representation.
How did the companies react to the petition?
Uber, meanwhile had tried to strike a deal with the machinists union to form an association and called Independent Drivers Guild to negotiate on behalf of drivers. To annoy the drivers more and take them to a verge of frustration the company officials stated that the signatures lack the name of an employer in order to start the unionization with the federal labor board as there might be possibility of fake signs.
“Uber NYC strives to offer drivers the best and most flexible earning opportunity,” Uber spokesman told the media. He claims that there is more competition for drivers in New York than before across every part of the industry. The ultimate motive of the company is said to make Uber the top choice for drivers even more than of the customer and that is the reason they claim to work with the drivers closely and find out the ways to improve their app, rules and system. Isnt it totally contrasts with the drive’rs statement?
The company claims that it has to be noted that they don’t recognize such distinctions as an ‘Uber’ or ‘Lyft’ driver, as all drivers now receive a universal license that allows them to drive yellow taxi, green taxi and for any black car, luxury limo or livery base, as well as to move among these sectors as they see fit.
Recently, Uber settled litigation with drivers in California and Massachusetts, with the terms denying the drivers employee status and awarding them $100 million. However, a federal judge overturned the settlement last month, calling the $100 million inadequate, and concluding that “a small portion of the $100 million amount reflects only 0.1 percent of the potential full verdict value of the case.” A group called the New York Taxi Workers Alliance filed a similar class-action lawsuit on behalf of 5,000 New York Uber drivers .
About the Author : Anand Rajendran is the Co-founder & CEO of Casperon. He is a content marketing and social media marketing Specialist. He covers many things like ecommerce, marketing, design, development, strategy, plus emerging trends, including omni channel and cloud replatforming. GetmeTaxi is a Software development Company Owned by Casperon Technologies which has launched a GetmeTaxi Script called Cabily.