Uber, the mobile ride hailing company, is in the news again. For the last few months, Uber drivers around the country have been starting to take a stand against the company’s increasing rules and stricter policies. In September, the company told drivers for UberBlack (the high-end service) that they would also have to pick up passengers for UberX (the low-cost option). The drivers for this high-end option often take out loans to buy these expensive cars, and picking up passengers for the cheaper option would never cover their gas or travel expenses, much less the car payments. It’s how they make their living, and they were getting a big pay cut. Many Uber drivers begin driving as contract work, but soon become treated like employees. More rules and regulations are placed on them as time goes on, especially if there are any bad reviews. Now, many Uber drivers across the country are starting to band together to form unions asking for more rights.
I certainly agree that a driver should be able to bail or leave a situation if they feel threatened or in danger, and that a high-end driver has the right to stay high-end, since these drivers are told they get to be independent when they sign up. Similar problems have come up with places like Etsy and Lyft, where more restrictions are placed on the workers as time goes on. They are treated like employees rather than independent or contract workers, and I can understand why it would be frustrating. If Uber wants to have actual employees, then they’ll have to change how their system works. Currently, the power really resides with the drivers who offer their services to the company and I can see why the workers would be frustrated with all these stricter requirements when they are the ones who offered to drive in the first place.