Uber threatens to leave Seattle if drivers can unionize; drivers rejoice


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/04/06/uber-bit-my-finger.html


#2

“All the white people working part-time are against the union,” said Singh. “They’re just doing it for fun.”

I expect some of those white people might disagree. IANFS, but around these parts there’s plenty of desperate white people.


#3

Uber let the cat out of the bag that the taxi business model was dead, and now communities have let the cat out of the bag that the uber model can be modified to heavily favor the drivers. Neat! and all in less than 10 years.


#4

Please get them out’a San Diego too. I’ve taken to just paying my Lyft dude straight cash by getting his cell number and calling him direct. Believe me I made a friend for life.


#5

Or they can go the worker’s co-operative route instead, and avoid the problems associated with having an unelected boss…


#6

I’ll have to remember that. I have had people ask me if they can get me again though Lyft and I have to let them know that they probably can’t based on how the app works.


#7

This. I live in eastern New Jersey and commute to New York City every day via public transit. Sometimes I have to go to an appointment or whatever and need a car. Local taxi services hate driving me around and have told me point blank they have enough business to just go back and forth to the airport that I should take Uber or Lyft instead.

When I do invariably I end up in small talk because some drivers aren’t familiar with the area. And half of them end up being from Pennsylvania, at least 90 minutes away. It’s better for them to drive an hour and a half or two hours instead of driving in Stroudsburg or trying to find another kind of job out there.

Times is tough all along the line. There’s some white people out there doing it to fill the time but an awful lot of desperate people of all races.


#8

He made up cheapy biz cards, and now hands them out. It’s a Free Market after all…


#9

Between cab licensing/medallion systems and unions, it seems that the taxi industry loves protecting its privileges. Mainly the privilege to screw the rest of us over with crappy, expensive service.


#10

unalienated labor doesn’t come cheap, pal.


#11

Yes it is!! Unless of course it affects my existing company, then I need to be protected by the government “for the good of my customers”!


#12

I’ve seen that a couple times in smaller areas where the alternative to rideshare is drunk driving and/or suspended license (very diff. model than cities). Driver has a loaded car with chargers, water, etc. and hands out a # for return ride.

Of course I’m in those areas for a beer festival or two, hence using of Uber/Lyft, but seems like an awesome idea.


#13

This is why in DC I’m more wont to take a rideshare than a cab. As horrible as Uber the company is, they are STILL better than a DC cab that is run by terrible people, and has drivers who literally can’t figure out how to navigate lettered/numbered streets.

That said, I’m taking Lyft most of the time now, on the same logic. They’re sort of on the Target isn’t quite as horrible as Walmart, but neither is great scale.


#14

Uber will be supplanted by a self driving company.


#15

Hmm. I wonder what Uber would do if one of their drivers straight-up abused the shit out of their Uber status to hawk their own one-person cab company? Like by handing out a business card guaranteeing sub-Uber rates. [EDIT: I see from your later comment that that’s exactly what your guy did.]

Uber has staked their entire existence (as a cab company, anyway) on the premise that they don’t have a single driver-employee, just “independent contractors.” There’s only so much you can do to restrain the trade of independent contractors before they become your de facto employees. (Or in this case your even more de facto employees.)

For that matter, I wonder how vulnerable the whole Uber/driver tech-mediated relationship is to scamming/spoofing/subverting. Ten taxi drivers, registered as Uber drivers, could do a lot of damage to Uber’s reputation in a single “surge” just by toggling their availability status. (Turn on, accept fare, wait, turn off, repeat.) Sure, they’d get booted by the algorithm eventually, but not before the damage was done. That may be a bad example–I don’t know how their internal processes work–but I get the feeling that they’re kind of inherently vulnerable to such shenanigans while they’re thumbing their nose at the very concept of regulation or being subject to mere municipal laws.


#16

Isn’t that what all unions do? And I thought unions were good for the workers?


#17

Uber should convert to a religion. They’d gain a massive First Amendment firewall to hide behind from judges, escape from all kinds of labor and pay laws, and they could lock their religious worker/volunteers into their own arbitrary arbitration process that doesn’t even have to exist. (Gracia v. Scientology.)

Oh, and they could toss religious bigot at anyone that criticized them.


#18

I suspect it’s more an case of “the white people who work non-union white-collar jobs that don’t pay living wages, but who have been brainwashed to believe that unions are bad.” I know a fair few of those…


#19

Growing up in Michigan in the 90’s, I knew a lot of white people working blue collar non-union jobs that didn’t pay living wages and had been brainwashed into believing unions were bad. Or their cousin downstate told them unions were bad because they got laid off when their employer ran the company into the ground instead of working with the unions and blamed it publicly on the unions with the backing of the President.


#20

I can’t speak for Seattle overall but among the people I know here Uber is dead. Everyone has switched to Lyft while keeping a cynical eye open for Lyft to start pulling the same crap if Uber leaves.