Judge to Uber and Lyft: Your drivers are employees, so deal with it

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/08/12/judge-to-uber-and-lyft-your-d.html


“But our employees are slaves, so this doesn’t apply . . .”


Some spokesperson or pol is now going to say “Well, if we have to pay workers more, then prices will go up.” They never say the next part, which would be “I mean, obviously we can’t lower executive pay or lower profits.”

Of course in this case, I haven’t heard that either Lyft or Uber are profitable- they’re just burning through their investors money.


Not even close. Uber has been burning cash from day 1 and only ever posts profits by selling off assets or firing loads of people.


Also: Thanks for giving me an excuse to x-post @doctorow :wink:


They’ve already gone to full “we’ll have to take our ball and go home!” mode.

Because of course it’s the evil gummint’s fault that nobody at Uber HQ could possibly have predicted that a law might actually end up being enforced…

Given that the company’s entire history has been built on successful intimidation or bypass of local regulators(with occasional abandonment of locations where that proves to not be possible) it’s not a terribly surprising move; but it’s still just as cynically petulant as expected.


Uber has been struggling to get a foothold here in Germany. The taxi business is quite heavily regulated, with special drivers’ licenses, municipal permits, restrictions on the colour and equipment of cars, fixed pricing schemes, etc., and the courts have made it clear to Uber that since they’re competing with other taxi services they will have to comply with the general rules for taxis, or else.

These days Uber’s operations in Germany are restricted to essentially running a taxi service, including licensed drivers and so on, in a few cities. They tried to provide rides through car rental agencies but that wasn’t allowed either. To become an Uber driver in Germany, you basically need to be a licensed taxi driver to begin with, so it’s not something random people can do if they happen to own a car but can’t find other work.


So the good old metered cabs have won, at least in Caliifornia. How well do they treat their employees?

Personally, if Uber and Lyft were to vanish from the earth tomorrow, I wouldn’t even notice. I live in an area where I can drive my own car or ride my motorcycle anywhere I need to go, and I couldn’t call for a rideshare anyway since I don’t have a smartphone.

Now, if getting rid of rideshare companies made it necessary for me to frequently use our local Taxicab Company from Hell (“Pickup Within Two Hours Of The Time We Promised, Or You Can Go Suck A Bag Of Dicks”) I might be a bit more concerned.

A lot of Uber/Lyft drivers have regular customers. They can continue to work under the table. Plus, what is stopping them from banding together and doing this service on their own? Win-win. Great moneymaking opportunity for someone to create a DIY ridesharing app for local co-op driver groups.

Bratty Uber throws tantrum, threatens to cut off California unless judge does what it says in driver labor rights row

Uber’s CEO today threatened to suspend all of its dial-a-ride services in California should a judge not grant an emergency appeal to let it continue classifying its app’s drivers as contract workers.


Like they’re voluntarily taking in lower revenue than they think the market can bear to begin with.

While I am all for this, the actual point here was to get these drivers employee-level perks. Becoming self-employed doesn’t fix that, nor, likely, would a co-op unless a whole bunch of em got together.

Remember, Uber is 2 things:

1 - A legit disruptor of a shitty cab model while offering a way way better experience for payment, tracking, hailing, and safety.
2 - A crazy idea that the benefits of #1 somehow are a multi-billion dollar profit center.

#2 is the problem. The things #1 provides are not unique and a co-op could absolutely provide them, but I fear that in a world where Uber and Lyft exist they will instead provide less of those items, while also denying drivers the very things this case was going to win them from Uber and Lyft in the first place.

Lyft has a chance here to clean up in California if Uber walks away. I just don’t know if they are willing to make the changes necessary to get there given that they, too, have made too much of a focus on #2 a priority.


The actual point might have been to get

some return on all the campaign contributions they’ve made over the decades.

(Edit) And if the whole point was to get Uber and Lyft, then passing a law which affects almost every freelancer in the state is like solving your termite problem with a low-yield nuke in the basement.

Today I got a notification from the Lyft app asking me to “save ridesharing in California”. They got a proposition on the ballot to let them keep classifying drivers as contractors. They’re also threatening to shut down entirely for some period of time if they do end up needing to comply with AB5 - hoping to win sympathy from people who’ve been enjoying their absurdly cheap taxi rides (subsidized by investors hoping to put transit and licensed taxis out of business and corner the transportation market).

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.