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Transportation

Contractors or Not, Seattle Uber Drivers Might Get Collective Bargaining 127

The Seattle Times reports on a development in Seattle that might have implications for other cities with contentious relationships with transportation coordinating services like Uber. Seattle councilman Mike O'Brien has proposed a system under which drivers for Lyft, Uber, and similar companies would be represented in collective bargaining agreements with the companies they do work for. The proposal would require taxi companies, for-hire vehicle companies and app-based ride-dispatch companies, including Uber and Lyft, to negotiate agreements with drivers on issues such as payment and working conditions. The approach would be novel because of the drivers’ employment status. The National Labor Relations Act gives employees, but not independent contractors, the right to bargain as a union. ... Under O’Brien’s plan, a nonprofit organization would need to show support from a majority of a company’s drivers to be designated by the city as their bargaining representative. The organization would use a list of drivers provided by the company.
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Contractors or Not, Seattle Uber Drivers Might Get Collective Bargaining

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  • by ickleberry ( 864871 ) <web@pineapple.vg> on Sunday November 29, 2015 @07:39PM (#51023589) Homepage
    Uber secretly hates its drivers, and is dieing to replace them with bots. Its founding members can't wait until the day Uber becomes a fully autonomous moneymaking machine and they can live a life of endless hedonism on the Bahamas while being fed a constant supply of effortless funds
    • [Uber's] founding members can't wait until the day Uber becomes a fully autonomous moneymaking machine and they can live a life of endless hedonism on the Bahamas

      I think the founders are already well rich enough to do that, especially in the Bahamas.

    • Re:Fun uber fact (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Sunday November 29, 2015 @09:40PM (#51023949)

      You misspelled "all companies" and "employees" in that paragraph.

      • I'm not sure why "secretly" was in there was well. Most employers are pretty blatant about hating their entry level employees. If you need an example, just look at all of those KMart and Walmart employees who had to work on Thanksgiving.

    • auto drive cars are at last 5-10 years out. Also the legal part may take longer / have a few long cases.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The very point in capitalism is to make bank without labour, whereas the very principle of socialism is that you can only earn while labouring. Laziness is a capitalist virtue, as long as it is smart laziness.

      This is lost on some of the college-capitalist blowhards who go around calling socialists lazy. Socialism is unpopular precisely because more intelligent people aren't able to use their brains to reduce the amount of labour they are required to do to survive, so instead go for cronyism.

      (This isn't spea

  • Sucks to have your pay docked by a shadow government that does nothing for you, but that's the way it's going to have to be in some retrograde cities.

    • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Sunday November 29, 2015 @08:27PM (#51023747)
      except for the increased wages by bringing strike pressure to bear. Oh, and they make sure you can strike without fear of reprisal and with enough food/money to survive a strike. Oh, and then there's the better benefits from the bargaining. Then there's enforcing worker safety when OSHA can't or won't. Then There's protecting workers from age discrimination. Then there's ensuring workers get trained instead of paying for their own training out of pocket.

      You know, you're right. Unions have done about as much for the working man as the Romans did for those guys from Monty Python.
      • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Sunday November 29, 2015 @08:48PM (#51023803)

        except for the increased wages by bringing strike pressure to bear.

        Totally vaporized and then some by the overhead of the union.

        Unions get enough extra to thrive themselves, over time the union leaders care nothing for the workers but only for personal income to grow the union - to the extent they do not care if they kill the host they are attached to, putting many out of work.

        At least that's how it has played out so far over the last few decades. Why is there any reason to think it will alter for Uber? There is none.

        • by MacDork ( 560499 )

          Totally vaporized and then some by the overhead of the union.

          Not really, [wsj.com] but I'm sure there's nothing I can say to convince you otherwise.

        • by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Sunday November 29, 2015 @11:33PM (#51024455) Journal

          Here's a list of some of the things we can thank unions for: [aflcio.org]

                  Weekends
                  All Breaks at Work, including your Lunch Breaks
                  Paid Vacation
                  FMLA
                  Sick Leave
                  Social Security
                  Minimum Wage
                  Civil Rights Act/Title VII (Prohibits Employer Discrimination)
                  8-Hour Work Day
                  Overtime Pay
                  Child Labor Laws
                  Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA)
                  40 Hour Work Week
                  Worker's Compensation (Worker's Comp)
                  Unemployment Insurance
                  Pensions
                  Workplace Safety Standards and Regulations
                  Employer Health Care Insurance
                  Collective Bargaining Rights for Employees
                  Wrongful Termination Laws
                  Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
                  Whistleblower Protection Laws
                  Employee Polygraph Protect Act (Prohibits Employer from using a lie detector test on an employee)
                  Veteran's Employment and Training Services (VETS)
                  Compensation increases and Evaluations (Raises)
                  Sexual Harassment Laws
                  Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
                  Holiday Pay
                  Employer Dental, Life, and Vision Insurance
                  Privacy Rights
                  Pregnancy and Parental Leave
                  Military Leave
                  The Right to Strike
                  Public Education for Children
                  Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011 (Requires employers pay men and women equally for the same amount of work)
                  Laws Ending Sweatshops in the United States

          • by turbidostato ( 878842 ) on Sunday November 29, 2015 @11:54PM (#51024535)

            All right... all right... but apart from that, what have the Romans done for us?

          • Nt all of that is good, and saying unions brought most of those is the worst possible kind of revisionist bullshit there is.

            Yes at one point in the very distant past there was some real reason to have unions. But they are proof of the statement that "absolute power corrupts absolutely" and the usefulness they once had has vanished... I hold no grudge against existing unions, well the ones that have let the companies live anyway. To form new unions in this day and age is to strangle a company of entire se

            • What I don't understand is why people are SO opposed to unions.

              There is enough non-unionized labor force out there that unions are almost irrelevant these days.

              So why vocalize so loudly about getting rid of what is left?

              Sort of like why some people are so vocal against gay marriage... it doesn't affect you... why do you care so much?

              Could it be that you are just towing a line fed to you by someone with an agenda?

              In the case of unions, just like with "tort reform" the message is coming down from the corporat

          • That's great, but a good 2/3rds of those we could have by natural attrition as well. The world is an ever changing place with ever changing social norms. Right now the biggest changes are happening and have nothing to do with unions. Unions didn't provide me with a free gym at work. They had nothing to do with Parental Leave in my country, especially for males. They haven't had anything to do with the rise of flexible hours and better employment care. That is simply general market trends. Also I can't belie

          • Weekends

            Like most self-serving statements from organizations hyperventilating about their unassailable merit, this is overblown propaganda. As an alternative, I refer you to bona fide scholarly research which discusses how the forty-hour week was won

            primarily through labor market tightness (wage increases, manufacturing employment expansion, and curtailment of immigration). State and federal government labor market intervention, increased union power, and technological changes in industry played smaller ro

          • About half of those don't exist. Why should I thank unions for an 8 hour work day when I work 12 or more? Why should I thank them for overtime pay when i don't get overtime pay? Same for FMLA, Pregnancy and Parental Leave, right to Strike, Compensation Increases and Evaluations, Age Discrimination Act, Wrongful Termination Laws, Collective Bargaining, Sick Leave, 40 Hour Work week, Pensions, Privacy Rights. None of those apply to me nor to most other Americans.
            Then there are the things you mention which do
            • Why someone works overtome when he is not payed for it, is beyond me.
              Do you live in a dictatorship with corrupt courts, that you can not sue for your payment?

              Working 12h for an extended time is illegal in most countries.

              • Why someone works overtome when he is not payed for it, is beyond me. Do you live in a dictatorship with corrupt courts, that you can not sue for your payment?

                Working 12h for an extended time is illegal in most countries.

                Welcome to America. If you are not working 12 hours a day, there is someone else with no family fresh out of college who doesn't know any better (and also has no work experience, but they are willing to overlook that) who will happily work 12 hours a day for less than you are getting.

                • Well, in Germany you need a special permit to work 10h for more than a few weeks (no idea how long, it is 20 years ago that I had to read up the details), a special part of the company called "Betriebsrat", loosely translated to "workers' council" has to agree, the boss has to "command" it. However it gets complicated if you count "work days" etc. as the weekly hours are by law based on work days and Saturday is a workday, but usually peopler don't work on Saturdays.

                  If you indeed reach 10h a day, you have t

        • I know it's been a while but I heard about what happened to your dad. Sorry for your loss.

      • The Unions did a lot for the average worker. But now they've stopped doing that, and only serve their own ends. Since union workers get paid multiples of the minimum wage, they do campaign to raise it occasionally, but never enough to actually help anyone who is not in a union.

        Unions have done a great deal for the average worker. But now we have reached a point where it is difficult to unionize the rest of the workers, yet they still need rights. It is time to move beyond the trade union, and work again to

      • Unions tend to start off with their hearts in the right place but, over time, tend to degrade into self-serving platforms whose sole purpose seems to be extracting more money every contract.

        Let's not dance around the subject, Unions will fight tooth and nail to increase the wages of their members because it is, in reality, a self serving issue. The amount of money their members is a direct correlation to how much the Union makes since Union dues are typically a percentage of Union members pay. Ergo, as

  • the Collective.
  • It's not the drivers who are calling for Guido to take a cut of their earnings to buy hookers and blow for mobsters and politicians.

    -jcr

    • We busted up the mob years ago. They've got nothing to do with Unions now. They mostly made it in because some muscle was needed to deal with the strikebreakers (which, btw, is a word Firefox's spellchecker recognizes, which depresses me to no end...).

      See, if there's a problem with something with an enormous upside you solve it. You don't just declare the whole thing over and call it a day.
      • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Sunday November 29, 2015 @08:50PM (#51023813)

        >> We busted up the mob years ago. They've got nothing to do with Unions now.

        You must not live near Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philly, etc. or take a close look at who's involved in the pension plans then.

        e.g., http://deadline.com/2015/09/mo... [deadline.com]

        • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

          You must not live near Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philly, etc. or take a close look at who's involved in the pension plans then.

          You must have been in a coma for the last 50 years. Before the FBI could create terror plots with paid informants and then swoop in for arrests, they had to make do with prosecuting mobsters. That and breaking up anything approaching "the left" is what the FBI does.

      • by jcr ( 53032 )

        We busted up the mob years ago. They've got nothing to do with Unions now.

        That's what's known in rhetoric as a bald-faced lie. Unions will be lousy with mobsters until we get rid of unions altogether.

        -jcr

      • 'Dealing with strikebreakers with muscles' is illegal.
        The mafia did not allign with unions because the unions needed some muscles.
        The mafia alligned with unions or infiltrated them to get a part of the workers wages.

    • It's funny how many people hear the word "unions" and race to the garbage disposal to cram in their brains and flip the "on" switch, based on the same tired 50-year-old capitalist buuuuuulshit. If you work for a living and are against unions, then you're as much of an idiot as a slave who opposed the 13th Amendment.

      • by jcr ( 53032 )

        If you work for a living and are against unions, then you're as much of an idiot

        I like keeping what I earn, asshole. You can shove your propaganda back up the orifice it came from.

        -jcr

  • Not Contractors (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Sunday November 29, 2015 @08:20PM (#51023719)
    The IRS defines who is and is not a contractor. These drivers simply are not independent contractors. First they would need a business permit in order to be contractors. They can not be supervised by Uber in any way, And they would need a written contract that offers them benefits roughly equal to any benefits Uber gets by offering the contract. So many businesses steal money by falsely calling people independents or piece workers and it is fraud both to the workers as well as numerous public agencies. For example, a Uber driver, injured in a wreck can not get Workman's comp. And Workman's compensation suffers an economic loss when employees are falsely called independent contractors.
    • by mi ( 197448 )

      The IRS defines who is and is not a contractor

      That might be because the taxpayers do not have the collective-bargaining powers, when talking to the IRS.

      The distinction between employees and contractors is artificial and should not exist.

      For example, a Uber driver, injured in a wreck can not get Workman's comp

      His injuries — and the "pain and suffering" are covered by the auto-insurance. The "workman's compensation" was a solution in search of a problem, became a breeding ground for fraud, and should

      • by plopez ( 54068 )

        "That might be because the taxpayers do not have the collective-bargaining powers, when talking to the IRS"

        Tat would be getting tens of thousands of voters to sign petitions and forming alliances with organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and NFIB.

      • No, the insurance company will not pay for injury or damages when the car was being used as an illegal hire car.
        • by mi ( 197448 )

          No, the insurance company will not pay for injury or damages when the car was being used as an illegal hire car.

          Even if this were true, that would've been a direct result of the driver's conscientious decision.

          But it is not true. [engadget.com]

    • The IRS defines who is and is not a contractor. These drivers simply are not independent contractors. First they would need a business permit in order to be contractors. They can not be supervised by Uber in any way, And they would need a written contract that offers them benefits roughly equal to any benefits Uber gets by offering the contract.
      So many businesses steal money by falsely calling people independents or piece workers and it is fraud both to the workers as well as numerous public agencies. For example, a Uber driver, injured in a wreck can not get Workman's comp. And Workman's compensation suffers an economic loss when employees are falsely called independent contractors.

      Not exactly. Someone can be an IC without a business permit--that just means they're operating a business illegally. Also, "supervised in any way" doesn't necessarily make someone an employee. I can watch my plumber work on pipes in my house, and it doesn't make him my employee. I can even supply the parts. I can even let him borrow a tool.

      Whether someone is an IC or not is a fact-based inquiry, and is determined by looking at a variety of factors including to what degree someone is supervised, whether

      • Someone can be an IC without a business permit--that just means they're operating a business illegally.

        You can operate as a sole proprietorship under your own SSN without any kind of license. You still have to withhold FICA on your earnings. It is far more likely that someone will operate illegally as a sole proprietorship, but it is not a given.

    • And Workman's compensation suffers an economic loss when employees are falsely called independent contractors.

      You *do* realize, right... Workman's Comp is not supposed to be a profit center for the state, and that because contractors who do not pay into it can not make claims against it, you're only counting a lack of revenue from taxes as them suffering a loss, and they aren't suffering an actual loss in terms of having to pay out funds that they did not collect in the first place?

      I know that many states treat it as a slush fund they can borrow against, and (effectively) never pay back what they;ve borrowed out of

    • First they would need a business permit in order to be contractors. They can not be supervised by Uber in any way, And they would need a written contract

      None of these are specific requirements to be an independent contractor. The IRS has a list of 20 criteria [mt.gov] for classification as a contractor. No single criteria is either necessary or sufficient.

    • First they would need a business permit in order to be contractors.

      All states that I am aware of, including Washington, allow sole proprietorship businesses to operate under an individual's SSN.

      They can not be supervised by Uber in any way

      They HAVE to be supervised in some way, as they have to meet the goal agreed to, which is to get a person from point A to point B. The method that they choose to do that, must be completely up to the contractor (which, of course, it isn't).

      And they would need a written contract that offers them benefits roughly equal to any benefits Uber gets by offering the contract.

      I have never in my life ever heard such a requirement. If they offered that, then the person would be an employee.
      The IRS does (and should no

  • Pro or Anti union (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday November 29, 2015 @08:46PM (#51023795) Journal
    Whether you are pro or anti union, you shouldn't deny workers the right to organize.
    Being able to stand together as a counter-balance to the power of the company is kind of important, whether they choose to take advantage of that right or not.
    • ...whether they choose to take advantage of that right or not.

      This part is important.

      As long as I am not required to be part of a union in order to get a job, I am fine with it.

      But if I'm forced to pay for a Union I want no part in, that's when I get really upset.

      • I was a Teamster at one point when I worked for UPS.

        I hated the union dues because my pay was already really low.

        However, I REALLY liked the union-negotiated medical benefits which was 100% medical, dental and vision coverage, no co-pays on anything and no money withheld.

        Some union dues (I don't think they were more than $30/mo) are really insignificant compared to how much that benefit package was worth.

        So, this was over 10 years ago now but I don't think things have changed very much at UPS and they seem

      • I'm not aware of a single country where you can be forced to be a member of a union ... where do you live?

  • Embrace, Extend, Extinguish.

  • I really wonder how other employers/employees are going to take this.

    The Seattle areas top ten employers all make heavy use of contractors:

    1. Boeing
    2. Microsoft
    3. University of Washington
    4. Amazon
    5. Weyerhaueser
    6. Group Health Cooperative
    7. Fred Meyer
    8. Bank of America
    9. Qwest Communications
    10. Nordstrom

    Good luck with the lawsuits guys! You're going to be getting it from both side, if this passes!

    Side A: The employers who provide all your jobs, and don't want to have to give up contract workers
    Side B: The

    • by plopez ( 54068 )

      The contractors they use are corporations which provide workers who are W-2 employees of those corporations. A true contractor is an independent 1099 worker who set rates, covers their own healthcare, retirement, etc. Don't confuse the two.

      • The contractors they use are corporations which provide workers who are W-2 employees of those corporations. A true contractor is an independent 1099 worker who set rates, covers their own healthcare, retirement, etc. Don't confuse the two.

        I don't. The contracts we dealt with at IBM and Apple, and the contractors I've personally dealt with in the context of Microsoft and HP, were all 1099 workers.

        While I've dealt with contracting corporations in the service industry as well, most of the people who fulfilled the contracts were doing piecework as 1099 contractors, and not full time employees of the contracting corporation. In this context, I'm referring to "temp reps" (for sales), and traditional temp agencies for seasonal work, or to bolster

        • by plopez ( 54068 )

          In the cases I have seen "contractors" have all been W-2s I should move to your part of the country, I hate being a W-2

          • In the cases I have seen "contractors" have all been W-2s I should move to your part of the country, I hate being a W-2

            The easiest way to accomplish this is to start your own contracting agency, and then employ yourself, and any friends who are in the same boat, as a 1099 worker. The bonus is that this will let you deduct most of your taxes as either "operating expense" or "capital outlay" on the part of the agency, you can run an expense account for most of the day to day expenses, including a car if you want, you can incorporate retirement fund operating company for the contracting agency to reallocate income into for th

  • The statement about contractors not having a right to bargain as a union isn't quite the full story. What contractors don't have is a right to have a union as the sole bargaining unit for all contractors. With employees, the union bargains on behalf of all employees whether they're members of the union or not. Contractors have every right to form a union and have it bargain on their behalf, but it can only bargain on behalf of those contractors who're members. If you aren't a member, you negotiate your own

    • by Anonymous Coward

      An important aspect is that union rights are protected for those classes of workers who are protected. This means that a person cannot be fired for being a member of a union. That is the most important reason for making all members of the company protected by the union, so the company cannot drive a wedge right through it. And those who would choose not be a member of that union would benefit from the negotiations paid for by others. This is why joining a union is done as a class, in a democratic way. The r

  • Reading some of the horribly misinformed comments about unions here leads me to believe that the anti-union propaganda's still working. Check your facts before you assume that workers that have union representation are worse off than those who don't. Also check out the difference in performance of companies that have majority unionised workers vs. those that don't. If a union isn't protecting your pay, health and safety, contracts, and benefits, then who is?

    • Reading some of the horribly misinformed comments about unions here leads me to believe that the anti-union propaganda's still working.

      Substitute anti with pro and the statement remains valid.

  • Somebody will need to be president of such an organization. And secretary. And they would need to of course be paid and have a cushy office.

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