Uber Drivers in SoCal Align with Teamsters, Prepare to Fight for Safety, Living Wage Protections

Southern California Uber drivers belonging to the California App-Based Drivers’ Association (CADA) have aligned themselves with Teamsters Local 986 in hopes of organizing.  The drivers perceive many of the business practices mandated by Uber as “unsafe, deceptive, and unfair.”  

CADA has been in existence for over a year but their new affiliation with the Teamsters gives them increased leverage.

“The company’s manifest indifference to the plight of its drivers, coupled with a series of misleading attacks on legislation aimed at protecting driver, consumer, and public safety ultimately led drivers to form CADA,” CADA leadership council member Lotfi Ben Yeder said.

Since its inception Uber has refused to sit down for a meeting with CADA and has publicly stated that it does not and will not recognize any organization that seeks to speak for its drivers. Chris Griswold, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 986, is undeterred:

“We look forward to working with CADA to help the drivers win fairness in the workplace and help them get recognized for the work they do making Uber and other app-based companies successful.  These app-based companies need to start treating their professional drivers with the respect and dignity that they deserve.”

Uber has brazenly played by its own rules from the outset but may find the Teamsters to be a formidable opponent, according to PandoDaily:

Prior to its association with the Teamsters, Uber has thus far refused to engage with the driver’s association. But while Uber is no stranger to controversy, having navigated several protracted regulatory battles across the U.S. and internationally, it may find the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to be among its most formidable opponents. The century old labor union has more than 1.4m members across North America and has waged successful campaigns against many of the country’s largest employers, such as UPS. Uber, despite its heaps of venture funding, big shot PR head, and libertarian ideals, won’t strike much fear into the Teamsters.

It’s still very early days for the transportation on-demand industry, which means that Uber and its corporate brethren are likely only scratching the surface of the labor and regulatory issues that they’ll face as this market continues to mature. The company has historically shown a disregard for any group that stands in its way or in any way questions its methods, be it regulators, the media, or its own drivers.

Other complaints from Uber drivers which lead to the formation of CADA include unchecked sexual harassment and the company’s inability or desire to pay a living wage.  The Teamsters press release addresses the latter head on:

Other CADA members expressed concern that Uber lulled them into investing in late model Lincoln Town Cars earlier this year, and then after a few months, notified the drivers that those same Town Cars would be degraded to the economy platform, where the fuel-to-fare ratio makes it impossible for the drivers to earn a living wage.

Some UberX drivers voiced their frustration that Uber leads its customers to believe that the tip is included in the fare, when in fact, it is not. One driver recounted how on a recent $4 fare, Uber kept $1.60, gas was 80 cents, a bottle of “complimentary” water was 45 cents, and the cost of commercial insurance for the ride amounted to 40 cents, leaving him with a take home of 75 cents for the trip and no tip, because it is “supposedly” included.

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