By Doug Cunningham
The Teamsters' Rome Aloise says the proposed $100 million class action settlement that drivers made with Uber isn't the end of driver efforts to organize for justice on the job with the multi-billion dollar app based taxi service. Uber controls the conditions of work for the drivers but classifies them as independent contractors instead of as employees. Aloise says this mis-classification is a huge national problem - not just in California - that shortchanges workers and tax revenues.
[Rome Aloise]: "Mis-classification is a giant problem in this country. And it remains to be seen how that works within this context of the Uber-type company."
Aloise says the Teamsters are in it for the long haul finding ways to organize Uber and Lyft drivers as well as port truckers who are also misclassified. Aloise says the Uber proposed agreement is likely to be modified before it's final.
[Rome Aloise]: "I believe that there'll be some modifications to it before it's finalized. And I think it opens up an opportunity for these drivers to coalesce into one organization."
Seattle passed an ordinance that gave collective bargaining rights to Uber and Lyft drivers. Leonard Smith is Director of Organizing and Strategic Campaigns for Teamsters Local 117 in Seattle.
[Leonard Smith]: "It's been sued by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They're suing and they're trying to enjoin the law's implementation. The U.S. Chamber sued to go ahead and stop it from going into place. The drivers are going to continue to organize, they're going to continue to put pressure on Uber and Lyft and similar companies to treatthem fairly.""
Smith says Uber and similar companies are pretending their drivers are not employees with all the legal rights and benefits employees are entitled to.
[Leonard Smith]: "What's going on with Uber drivers and others in this industry is not unique to Seattle. It's going on in every city in the United States where drivers are tryin' to earn a living. They're essentially being starved. As Uber keeps cutting mileage rate and mileage rate and mileage rate, they can't afford to put gas in the car. They're saying well, you know, this is our livelihood , we thought we could make money here, so we need to change this. We need to do something."
Smith says many Uber drivers find that after deductions for wear and tear on their vehicles, gas costs, Uber's control over the rates and their 'safe rider fee', their actual hourly wages are low. He says one Seattle Uber driver made less than $3 an hour after expenses were deducted.
Rome Aloise says no matter how they're classified, getting organized is a better deal for Uber drivers.
[Rome Aloise]: "That can only be better for these drivers, whether as employees or independent operators."