Monday, May 16, 2016

UBER - Hits Major 'Speed Bumps'

"Uber shuts down in Austin; hits major speed bumps in New York and California" PBS NewsHour 5/11/2016


SUMMARY:  The meteoric rise of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft is hitting speed bumps across the country:  Legal settlements with drivers in California and Massachusetts; a decision to suspend services in Austin, Tex.; and now, a union in New York City.  Hari Sreenivasan talks to Mike Isaac of the New York Times for more.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  Now we turn to Uber.  The ride-sharing giant's rise has spurred a number of fights across the country.

The latest move, an agreement to create a drivers association representing about 35,000 drivers in New York City.  That follows a recent settlement with drivers in California and Massachusetts, and a decision to suspend service in Austin, Texas.

Mike Isaac covers this landscape for The New York Times, joins us now from San Francisco.

How significant was this agreement that Uber made in New York?

MIKE ISAAC, The New York Times:  So, it's probably the largest to date that Uber has had in a sort of positive agreement with any sort of recognized labor unions.

It's the first time that Uber is actually recognizing a group of drivers.  They're not calling it a union because they lack some really fundamental issues that — issues and abilities that unions have, which includes the ability to collectively bargain with Uber on pay.

But, as far as overall significance, it's the first time Uber is actually willing on agree to talk to one of these groups.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  So, is this a step to try to prevent unionization or to have to call drivers employees?

MIKE ISAAC:  You know, it's — Uber has never really had good lines of communication with any of the drivers that work for them.

One of the biggest complaints has always been, you know, for drivers, that they can't get in touch with Uber.  If they have been deactivated driving for Uber, they don't know why often.  It's sort of this first olive branch from the company saying, OK, we're going to start listening to you and essentially give you a voice.

Now, that also serves another purpose, to, you know, sort of give a quasi-union-style thing to drivers without actually making them employees, which would cost Uber, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars more in overhead.

So, it's kind of a — it's serving more than one purpose at the same time.

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