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Uber Is Using In-App Podcasts To Dissuade Seattle Drivers From Unionizing (theverge.com) 102

Uber doesn't like unionization, like many corporations. In January, the company sued the city of Seattle to challenge the city's authority to implement a law that would allow ride-share drivers to unionize. The Verge is reporting today that the company has been using in-app podcasts to dissuade their Seattle drivers from unionizing by explaining, in their view, how the city's unionization law would negatively affect drivers. From the report: Uber spokesperson Nathan Hambley pushed back on a story from The Wall Street Journal over the weekend that suggested Uber drivers in Seattle were forced to choose whether or not to listen to the company-produced podcasts every day before they can begin picking up riders. The podcasts, which are produced in a number of geographic markets for Uber drivers, appear as notifications at the bottom of the app that can be dismissed or ignored -- or acted upon to start the latest podcast episode, which usually run under 10 minutes. Drivers are not required to listen to the podcast, said Hambley in an interview. "They are not required to look down at the notification at all. The most prominent button is to go on or offline to accept rides." The notification first appears as the limited message on the left, and, if the driver swipes up, the full message appears. The notification remains at the bottom of the driver screen regardless of whether it is ignored, or if the podcast is listened to or not.
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Uber Is Using In-App Podcasts To Dissuade Seattle Drivers From Unionizing

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  • Could someone be so kind as to copy/paste the WSJ article into here so that we can read it? FYI, a summary to news that no one can read is shite editing.

    Looking at you BeauHD.

  • As intended (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 14, 2017 @09:00PM (#54040831)

    When you have a system like that of the US of A one tends to wonder they bother complaining at all.
    Unions are by the people, for the people.
    Corporations are by special interest groups for profits.
    The two never shall meet.
    Without the collective will of the people, an individual is easy picken's for the corporation to instil its will.

    This all boils down to a systemic corruption of the political platform with bribery/lobbying and cronyism at its heart.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      When you have a system like that of the US of A one tends to wonder they bother complaining at all.
      Unions are by the people, for the people.

      That's funny. Let me tell you how it really works.

      In the USA, unions are by the mafia, for the mafia. Typically the mindset is that they want more dues so that the union boss can be rich. They'll push for things like higher wages or preventing lazy workers from getting shitcanned towards that end. They'll also sabotage the employer whenever possible and throw union members under the bus towards that end as well.

      Unions in other countries (especially Europe) tend to be good organizations, just not the ones in

      • Still a lesser evil. If you come up with a better system, let us know.
        • by Cederic ( 9623 )

          How about the union system in Germany?

          That was easy.

      • Re:As intended (Score:5, Interesting)

        by RabidReindeer ( 2625839 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2017 @07:46AM (#54042571)

        OR it could just be that that's been a steady stream of propaganda from a certain political party and Corporate America for 100 years. A Big Lie repeated over and over again until it "becomes" the unassailable Truth.

        Any organization can become corrupt at times but that does not mean that you can automatically assume that all such organizations are all corrupt at all times.

        Indeed, it is often the case that the more people need something, the more that unsavoury types will move in. And if they need something desperately and someone rich and powerful opposes them, it's not unthinkable that the unsavoury types could get a little extra "help", if you know what I mean.

        There are a lot of things to dislike about Unions. But thinking you can stand up as a single individual and negotiate on an even footing with an organization which is stocked with cash, "Human Resources", lawyers, and the patience to starve you out is pitiably naive.

        • OR it could just be that that's been a steady stream of propaganda from a certain political party and Corporate America for 100 years. A Big Lie repeated over and over again until it "becomes" the unassailable Truth.

          I am sure Jimmy Hoffa is on board with your assertions. You should ask him. Let us know what he says...

        • There are a lot of things to dislike about Unions. But thinking you can stand up as a single individual and negotiate on an even footing with an organization which is stocked with cash, "Human Resources", lawyers, and the patience to starve you out is pitiably naive.

          Yes, the simplest of game theoretic economic analysis shows that you as an individual employee cannot "negotiate" with your employer. Even for very small companies.

          Say that your boss has ten employees. So you go to negotiate. The only thing when it comes down to brass tacks you can negotiate with is walking away. I.e. quitting. That means that your boss will lose 10% of their productivity, while you will lose 100% of your income stream.

          That's not even close to equal. Your risk and hassle is much greater in

  • The right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by farble1670 ( 803356 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2017 @09:03PM (#54040837)

    Uber does have the right to communicate their side of the story to their drivers ... somehow this is controversial because ... they used their app?

    • Re:The right (Score:5, Insightful)

      by msauve ( 701917 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2017 @09:29PM (#54040973)
      Legal right != ethical behavior. Uber has shown time and time again that they're evil. They have other means of communicating non-business related messages to their drivers.
      • There are many ethical systems. Unethical to you is ethical to someone else
    • by Anonymous Coward
      It's controversial because it's another example of uber changing the classification of their drivers between employees/contractors depending on which is more beneficial at any given time. They want the perks of both without the downsides of either.
    • Re:The right (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2017 @10:16PM (#54041145) Homepage

      No your fucking boss does not have the right to spout political propaganda at you every time you start work. If the boss has that right, you should have the right to punch them in the face if you do not like it.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Ah, the good old "I disagree with what you say and will use violence to prevent you from saying it" defense so beloved of the Left these days.

      • No your fucking boss does not have the right to spout political propaganda at you every time you start work. If the boss has that right, you should have the right to punch them in the face if you do not like it.

        Why not? If you don't like the job, quit. You're not entitled to stay. Saying you have the right to assault someone for saying something you don't like, makes me wonder if you just started high school.

      • No your fucking boss does not have the right to spout political propaganda at you every time you start work.

        I guess you've never had a job then? Employers can say whatever they want to their employers as long as it's not harassment or discriminatory (under the law). And the employee is free to end their employment if they don't like it.

        If the boss has that right, you should have the right to punch them in the face if you do not like it.

        Yes, I can see you are a well adjusted reasonable person. It's perfectly normal to punch people in the face when you don't agree with them. I take solace in the fact that you are either a harmless troll, or you'll soon be incarcerated where I won't need to worry about you.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Uber does have the right to communicate their side of the story to their drivers ... somehow this is controversial because ... they used their app?

      It really depends on the laws. When a unionization drive is taking place, management may be restricted from what they could say and do to employees. In fact, trying to "communicate" about the unionization drive can be considered highly illegal, a form of union busting and land the employer in a LOT of hot water. (E.g., if the drive does not succeed, but a sizable

      • You might think employers have a right to communicate, but depending on the labor laws, this is not necessarily true.

        It doesn't follow common sense that the employers would not even be able to communicate their side of the story to employees. I honestly don't know the law, but this just doesn't ring true.

        As an employee, wouldn't you want to hear both sides of the story?

    • But not force them upon you....see you didn't read that bit. Moron.
      • But not force them upon you....see you didn't read that bit. Moron.

        Lol. Let me quote,

        Uber drivers in Seattle were forced to choose whether or not to listen to the company-produced podcasts

        Note that is says forced to CHOOSE. I can see you didn't comprehend that bit. Moron.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 14, 2017 @09:06PM (#54040857)

    The company part of all these sharing startups could be replaced if the drivers(sharers) formed a coop, where they all had joint ownership of the infustructure, drivers pay yearly fee of 20 dollars, and then they get to keep all their wages.

    Honestly what does uber really do besides being middlemen.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      Honestly what does uber really do besides being middlemen.

      Undermining the rights of the workers.

    • by Zan Lynx ( 87672 )

      Look at what driver groups are trying to do in Austin after Uber left. It's possible to do, but the problems they're having show that it is a lot more difficult and expensive than most people think.

  • And you can bet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2017 @09:07PM (#54040865)

    "The notification remains at the bottom of the driver screen regardless of whether it is ignored, or if the podcast is listened to or not."

    You can bet that Uber is gathering metrics on who which drivers refuse to listen to these "voluntary" podcasts and which ones click away from it before it's finished.

    Those who fall into this "uncooperative" or "unreceptive" group will be punished one way or another, and you can bet your ass on that.

  • Why do drivers for Uber, Lyft et al need to wait for Seattle to pass a law before they can unionise? The freedom to collectively bargain is something that all private sectors workers (public sector is a little more complicated) should have a right to.
  • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2017 @07:10AM (#54042461)
    Why don't companies ever fight unions by providing a good living for their employees?
  • I for one think that the drivers should remain ionized.
  • "In fact, there isn’t a way for Uber to force drivers to do much of anything"

    Really? A British court would disagree....
  • Since demonstrating your loyalty by listening to the company podcast is voluntary; I, for one, express childlike faith that it is completely impossible that compliance statistics would be gathered in the background; or ever factored in to a decision to not-fire-because-they-aren't-employees somebody. That sort of covert stuff just isn't Uber's company culture!
    • Y.T.'s mom pulls up the new memo, checks the time, and starts reading it. The estimated reading time is 15.62 minutes. Later, when Marietta [her boss] does her end-of-day statistical roundup, sitting in her private office at 9:00 P.M., she will see the name of each employee and next to it, the amount of time spent reading this memo, and her reaction, based on the time spent, will go something like this:

      • Less than 10 min.: Time for an employee conference and possible attitude counseling.
      • 10-14 min.: Keep an ey
  • ...how can Uber a) call the drivers contractors and b) then dissuade them from organizing? Seems like the former would preclude the latter, and the latter would totally negate the former.

  • If you form a union, one of the first demands will be that the company will no longer be allowed to play ads in your app.

    I'm generally neutral or slightly anti-union, but this is just the sort of thing that would persuade me to join a union.

  • I've never had the opportunity to work in a unionized environment, but would be happy to do so. In environments where it's allowed to work well, unions provide individual employees a balanced environment that they couldn't get on their own. Even a fair dismissal process in the coming age of mass unemployment is a good minimum standard.

    Most Uber fans trend younger, and younger employees haven't experienced the other side of the corporate coin. I've been working for almost 25 years now, and have been very luc

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