Teamsters on the West Coast are trying to organize Uber drivers and other drivers of similar companies. Currently, those drivers are generally considered independent contractors who pay a fee for the ability to drive for Uber or its competitors. Since unions can only organize employees, and thus only employees can be in bargaining units, the Teamsters are trying to pressure the companies into changing their business models – a tactic that is frequently quite successful. The California App-Based Drivers Association (CADA) was created for this purpose and has a list of complaints drivers have about Uber specifically, and what are characterized as unfair practices by ride-sharing services in general. CADA recently held a 3-hour “walkout” by turning their app off in solidarity to protest working conditions.
While the Teamsters are organizing Uber drivers in California, they are lobbying against them on the East Coast. Teamsters on the East Coast, specifically in Washington D.C., are working with taxi unions to stifle the proliferation of Uber and other ride sharing companies. Teamsters control the Washington, D.C. Taxi Operators Association (WTOA), a trade group dedicated to fighting ‘unfair regulations and lack of respect.” Uber, as you can imagine, is at the top of the list of issues WTOA is tackling. Either the Teamsters right hand (East Coast) doesn’t know what its left hand (West Coast) is doing, or the union is hedging its bets on Uber. You be the judge.
Matt Austin is a lawyer based in the Columbus, Ohio office of Roetzel & Andress, LPA who limits his practice to representing employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 723-2010 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.