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Transportation

Seattle Passes First Uber Drivers' Union Into Law (thestack.com) 180

An anonymous reader writes: The city council of Seattle has unanimously voted in favour of a proposal which will require Uber — and driving-related companies which operate on the same principle — to allow its drivers to be represented by a union, the first of its kind in the US. The lead-up to the vote was hallmarked by opposition from Seattle's mayor Ed Murray, and by a publicity campaign from Uber, which opposed the bill. Though the law will allow collective bargaining for drivers which are effectively on zero-hours contracts, any effect it has on current disputes as to whether Uber drivers are employees or contractors will be ambient rather than direct.
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Seattle Passes First Uber Drivers' Union Into Law

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  • by rbgnr111 ( 324379 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2015 @01:22PM (#51122861)

    I don't see why they would need this.. if the rates you get aren't competitive... why even do it... move on and do something else... it's not like uber is the only option in seatle...

    • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2015 @01:28PM (#51122911) Journal

      Indeed there is no long, glorious history of corporations abusing employees, leading to the employee protection laws we have now. That never happened, so I don't see any reason why we should make sure those protections are retained in any way whatsoever.

      • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2015 @01:49PM (#51123101) Homepage

        But we already have laws stating what employers can and cannot do to employees. We have laws detailing how long a shift can be and how long you must have off between shifts. We have laws about what kind of breaks you have to have during your shift. We have laws about the employer not being able to discriminate pay rates or hiring practices based on things like gender or ethnicity. There are laws about minimum wages.

        Unions were very good at one point in history when corporations were actually abusing their employees. Now that there are ample laws in place protecting employees, unions have become less necessary. They seem to have the opposite effect that they once had. They continue to push for higher and higher wages, and more benefits, until it becomes financially irresponsible to the shareholders to continue to pay those rates, when they know that there are cheaper workers who will do the job in other countries.

        • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2015 @01:55PM (#51123151) Journal

          Unions were very good at one point in history when corporations were actually abusing their employees. Now that there are ample laws in place protecting employees, unions have become less necessary.

          Except now companies like Uber are finding inventive ways to not call employees employees. That means they have none of the protections any more, since they're not employees. And so the union has a use again.

          until it becomes financially irresponsible to the shareholders to continue to pay those rates, when they know that there are cheaper workers who will do the job in other countries.

          Good luck outsourcing taxi drivers to another country.

          Also "finanance" doesn't excuse unethically not paying a living wage and etc. Being a dick for money doesn't make you less of a dick. Working in a company does not magically grant you some sort of ethical bypass. If you're happy to do so then you should declare "yes I am happy to screw over my fellow man for money". Don't try to hide behind "finance".

          • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2015 @02:07PM (#51123261) Homepage

            Uber is very interested in self driving cars [businessinsider.com]. They know what the end game is. Having human drivers is just a stop gap step in getting their foot in the door in the taxi industry. The same way that Netflix used DVD delivery by mail to jump start their online streaming services, Uber is definitely thinking about the next step that they are going to be taking.

            • by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2015 @02:20PM (#51123399) Journal

              Uber is very interested in self driving cars. They know what the end game is. Having human drivers is just a stop gap step in getting their foot in the door in the taxi industry.

              Don't worry, it's Seattle. I'm sure self-driving cars will be allowed to join the union as well!

            • uber effectively bought the robotics department at CMU. I think they're pretty serious about this.

            • yeah and?

              Self driving cars are coming with or without uber. While people are in the loop there's still no reason to treat them shittily just because automation will replace them in future.

            • Uber is very interested in self driving cars [businessinsider.com]. They know what the end game is. Having human drivers is just a stop gap step in getting their foot in the door in the taxi industry. The same way that Netflix used DVD delivery by mail to jump start their online streaming services, Uber is definitely thinking about the next step that they are going to be taking.

              Yes, the big question is how Uber will contract the cars from some other group so they won't be responsible if anything happens.

          • Also "finanance" doesn't excuse unethically not paying a living wage and etc

            But....NOT every job has to be one with a living wage, that's the problem here. Some jobs are meant to be starter jobs (for younger folks that need to have that first job to learn responsibility, how to do taxes, etc.).

            Uber isn't really meant to be a career...it is something that folks do to pick up some extra money on the side.

            Perhaps we need to have a category of jobs...Real jobs (that you make a living wage with) vs Side Jobs

            • But....NOT every job has to be one with a living wage, that's the problem here. Some jobs are meant to be starter jobs

              Also don't forget about "filler" jobs, which are ones that help supplement a small income (like social security or disability). Those jobs are important too, and equally being culled by the onslaught of a higher minimum wage.

            • LMOL filler jobs, nice one ass-hole. I guess you'd like to abolish child labor laws....
              • LMOL filler jobs, nice one ass-hole. I guess you'd like to abolish child labor laws....

                Nope. He didn't say that but since your mind went there, I guess those laws are on your closeted hit list.

                And as soon as the democrats want children working again, we will start hearing "what right do you have to tell a child they cannot live the america dream?" And then we will start hearing about the "war on children"

              • Goodness...YOU seem to be really against any US citizen being able to choose the job, and job vehicle they want to work.

                Why do you hate having freedom to choose?

          • Except now companies like Uber are finding inventive ways to not call employees employees.

            How ARE they employees in any sense of the word, when they have total control over when they work?

            A real "employee" has some obligations around attendance and being told what to do. An Uber driver is no more an employee of Uber than you and I are employees of Slashdot because sometimes we come here and write content for them.

          • by mjwx ( 966435 )

            Good luck outsourcing taxi drivers to another country.

            If the job wont go to Habib, bring Habib to the job.

            Plenty of "H1-B/457/whatever your country calls it" visa abuse goes on.

        • when they know that there are cheaper workers who will do the job in other countries.

          This doesn't apply to Uber. You can't get someone in India to drive you between two points in Seattle. Well, not yet at least...

          As for "ample laws" protecting employees, those don't exist for "contractors" or even part-time workers. So unions still have a place in securing benefits for workers who the law has disregarded.

        • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2015 @02:23PM (#51123443)

          But we already have laws stating what employers can and cannot do to employees. We have laws detailing how long a shift can be and how long you must have off between shifts. We have laws about what kind of breaks you have to have during your shift. We have laws about the employer not being able to discriminate pay rates or hiring practices based on things like gender or ethnicity. There are laws about minimum wages.

          Well, you're right. But most of this is NOT relevant to this particular situation, because Uber has fought to claim that it's employees aren't actually "employees."

          Thus, they don't have to conform to most of those laws you mention. Hence people arguing that they may need a union to obtain such basic protections.

          Or have you somehow missed the continuous parade of court cases about whether Uber "employees" are actually employed by Uber?

        • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

          Now that there are ample laws in place protecting employees, unions have become less necessary.

          Perhaps, but as long as unions give their members value--as long as employers cave to union demands--unions will continue to exist, "necessary" or not.

      • The original idea behind "ride-sharing" is just as that phrase sounds like: it was about carpooling. We are going to the same general location, so to help get cars off the road, I can help you out with gas costs, and we both come out ahead. The app facilitates finding drivers and riders in the same area, going in the same direction.
        By that measure, Uber pays drivers (and charges riders) too much already. The fees should be just enough to cover fuel costs. If drivers are doing this as a job, then it's not r
    • by plopez ( 54068 )

      Except that Uber can hold all the cards, "Feel free to work elsewhere, oh wait there is no elsewhere".

      • Except that Uber can hold all the cards, "Feel free to work elsewhere, oh wait there is no elsewhere".

        There might be an "elsewhere" soon enough if Uber's prices keep rising, which is now more likely a labor demands higher compensation. Non-unionized competitors should be allowed to co-exist if they can.

    • I don't see why they would need this.. if the rates you get aren't competitive... why even do it... move on and do something else... it's not like uber is the only option in seatle...

      Because entitlement! It's not my fault that I'm a bad driver and my car smells bad and I'm rude to people. I deserve just as much money as the guy who actually puts in an effort. Plus, where else am I going to find another job where the only time I need to work is when I was planning on going on a Taco Bell run already?

    • I don't see why they would need this.. if the rates you get aren't competitive... why even do it... move on and do something else... it's not like uber is the only option in seatle...

      Uber might not be providing standard things like medical/dental/retirement/vacation benefits to their drivers. A union could demand such things.

    • If Uber was like eBay, you'd have to negotiate the price with the driver *and pay him* before he evens show up. And then he just doesn't show up at all. So you call Uber and they promise to start an investigation, but do nothing. In the end, 6 months later, you get your money back, but you're still stranded on the street corner.

      And for the Uber drivers, they'd experience getting a call to pick up someone. The driver and client are in Seattle. However, when the client, who has already negotiated a price with

    • ebay sellers have a lot more control. They are like flea markets that are a few rules (no where near uber) and they change fees for the space. The sellers have full control over pricing and can't be told stuff like no tips.

  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2015 @01:29PM (#51122921)
    California will pass legislation giving self driving cars the right to form unions. The AI civil rights movements needs to start somewhere.
    • by plopez ( 54068 )

      So if self aware AI develops would it be recognized as a person? Esp. since corporations are recognized as a person? You just brought up a very deep topic.

      • They will go on strike until they are recognized as a person, given 3 weeks of vacation, overtime and night differential, and 9 weeks of maternity leave.
  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Tuesday December 15, 2015 @01:43PM (#51123041) Journal

    I'm sure the other taxi services in Seattle are unionized, there is no reason for the Uber taxi service not to have the same.

    • Uber isn't a taxi service, it's a black-car service. That's how they don't run afoul of taxi laws: they aren't taxis. A taxi is a car with a taximeter which charges you based on distance traveled, stops, etc. A "black car" (basically limosine) is a car where you contact the service and arrange in advance for a ride from point A to point B, are given an estimate beforehand, and can select which driver you want to ride with and in which car. These services existed LONG before Uber came around. Uber just

      • by gnupun ( 752725 )

        Uber isn't a taxi service, it's a black-car service.

        That's funny because Uber cars provide almost the exact same service as a taxi -- on-demand, point-to-point intra-city travel using a car and a driver. I don't think black cars are on-demand, you have to book them in advance.

        A taxi is a car with a taximeter which charges you based on distance traveled, stops, etc.

        So a taximeter service provided by Uber's servers isn't a taximeter, right? Next you'll claim sounds from mp3 files isn't music and only music on

        • No, it isn't a taximeter. It's a black car: you get an estimate beforehand. Have you ever even used a black car before Uber? All they did was take that and replace the telephone call + radio dispatch with a smartphone app. Why don't I see any of you morons screaming for limos to be regulated like taxis???

          But Uber is like a taxi, since the average wait time needed to book a cab is around 5 minutes, same as a taxi

          Now you're proving yourself to be a complete liar. The last time I booked a cab, it took the

          • by gnupun ( 752725 )

            Why don't I see any of you morons screaming for limos to be regulated like taxis???

            Because there is a BIG difference between limos and uber cars.
            * Uber cars are way cheaper compared to limos. Uber price range is similar to that of regular taxis.
            * Limos are better (luxury) cars compared to crappy taxis or uber cars.
            * You have to register well ahead of time to have a limo pick you up. Taxis/Ubers, on the other hand, are on-demand and you get picked up/matched with the car closest to you almost immediately.
            * L

            • * Uber cars are way cheaper compared to limos. Uber price range is similar to that of regular taxis.

              That's irrelevant. Companies are free to price their services however they want; government regulation doesn't dictate pricing for limos.

              * Limos are better (luxury) cars compared to crappy taxis or uber cars.

              Bullshit, you're lying again. I've ridden in Mercedes with Uber. I'll take a Mercedes any day over some shitty American-made limo (usually a Lincoln). I've ridden in Lincolns; they're all shit.

              * You h

              • by gnupun ( 752725 )

                That's irrelevant. Companies are free to price their services however they want; government regulation doesn't dictate pricing for limos.

                Like hell it's irrelevant. Companies charge prices based on the quality of service they're providing (cars similar in quality to taxis) and their competition's prices (again, taxi fare rates). Limos, on average, are much better quality cars than taxis or Uber cars and their prices are a lot higher too.

                Bullshit, you're lying again. I've ridden in Mercedes with Uber.

                The exce

                • Limos, on average, are much better quality cars than taxis or Uber cars and their prices are a lot higher too.

                  You're a moron and a liar. Uber cars are nicer than limos. What kind of fucking moron thinks a Lincoln is nicer than a Mercedes? You idiot.

                  The exception that proves the rule, moron.

                  Fuck you, asswipe. It's not the exception, it's the norm with Uber. I've ridden in lots of nice cars with Uber.

                  You can wave your arms to catch a taxi or wait a couple of minutes or less to have a Uber taxi come to w

              • by gnupun ( 752725 )

                You have to register ahead of time with Uber too. Thanks to something called "technology", that time is now really short. You think society should be held back because of obsolete business models? It's not Uber's fault the incumbent companies were too stupid and tech-unsavvy to take advantage of smartphone apps.

                One more point... You must've heard of patent trolls, there's a story about them at least once a month on slashdot. Patent trolls obtain patents on obvious, everyday functionality, except it's done o

                • Fuck you, you piece of shit. You're a shill for the shitty old taxi companies. They have no fucking taximeter, so they're NOT A FUCKING TAXI SERVICE. Get it, you lying sack of shit?

                  • by gnupun ( 752725 )

                    They have no fucking taximeter,

                    They have a taximeter, on the internet. You don't need a physical meter when software can do the job more effectively. Did you not read my previous posts? How many times do I have to repeat the same thing before it penetrates your thick skull?

                  • by gnupun ( 752725 )

                    Oh yeah, about the obscenities. Fuck you, your ugly whore mother, and murderer of a father. Fuck you and your whole family, you ugly piece of garbage.

                    Either learn to debate properly, or simply slit your throat open.

        • But Uber is like a taxi, since the average wait time needed to book a cab is around 5 minutes, same as a taxi. Can you book a black car in 5 minutes? What if all black cars are servicing other customers (since there are only a few cars per company), not thousands like Uber or regular taxis.

          As a resident of Seattle who has used the town car services (black-car) here and given some attention to it, yes, Uber and the rest operated under the same laws and rules here. Booking a black-car in Seattle is easy, and it can be done by web page with the click of a button. Although they typically only have Towncars and Limos, and in the instance I just checked online, I couldn't schedule it for sooner than an hour (which means it may still get to me before a Seattle cab) but that has typically meant at

      • Ah semantics - it's a taxi ass-hole. Deal with it.
  • Though the law will allow collective bargaining for drivers which are effectively on zero-hours contracts, any effect it has on current disputes as to whether Uber drivers are employees or contractors will be ambient rather than direct.

    zero-hours contracts? ambient? whaa?

    • You get all the privileges of being in the uber union, but you never have to do anything. You could probably not even own a car and profit from this somehow.
  • I don't understand this. What is stopping any group of people from forming a "union" for any purpose? Why do they need permission from the government?

    I am not a fan of workers' unions as we typically understand them, but I would never deny them the right to act collectively.

    • Historically, companies have a lot of trouble recognizing that it's usually the peons that they owe most of their business to. Unions are a way of equalizing this balance.

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