This was prepared as a response to the subject article but as I am not an active subscriber I was unable to post such response. So, here’s my two-cents folks!
The most relevant complaint about Uber and whether you are an employee or an Independent Contractor is simple. Uber fails to pay UberX drivers enough to be Independent Contractors. You cannot be an Independent Contractor if you cannot pay your drivers at least a minimum wage and all across America today most UberX drivers are not making anywhere near the minimum wage. Uber calculates your per hour pay based upon the time you actually have a rider in your car, making it appear you are making a good hourly rate. The time the driver works before and after a rider on board is not factored into the drivers pay.
Example: A driver accepts a ride request 15 minutes away from his present location. He drives to the rider location, picks up the rider and transports the rider a 5 minute trip. Upon completion of the trip the driver less a rider to return with “dead-heads” back to his original location. The driver has actually worked 35 minutes, but been paid for 5 minutes. Please note, in this example I demonstrate only actual working time. There is numerous times when a driver has to sit and wait for a call for a rider that also is not paid. This method of payment alone should demonstrate Uber has an “employee” control over the drivers as Independent Contractors would have the right to charge fares that would allow their drivers to earn adequate earnings.
The second applicable concern is the contract UberX drivers are subject to. NOBODY is their own boss when the contract can be modified at will by Uber without any form of negotiation with the driver. Uber has reduced the rider fares by reducing driver rates while more than doubling rider safety fees paid to Uber without any form of negotiation. Actual Independent Contractors that were their own boss would have a privilege of negotiation of their contract when placed in a negative earnings status and a right to be notified in advance of contract changes to allow for negotiation as necessary prior to changes.
Example: During the past year Uber has made contract modifications severely impacting drivers compensation. At no time was it discussed with drivers prior to these changes, at no time were any of these changes made part of any form of contract negotiation. You simply cannot be “your own boss” if your boss is able to change your ability to be your own boss without any negotiation between you as a “boss” and the company boss.
The third issue is noted below . . . “If you do not like driving for Uber, you do not have to.” This is the stupidest response I have ever heard regarding this situation. Do you just stand by and let a wrong continue and walk away? This is still the United States of America and we may be an “At Will” State, but we are still American Workers that are supposed to be compensated fairly for services provided. Uber has failed to properly compensate drivers while lying to and making fools out of government officials claiming the drivers paid well. If Uber cannot properly manage an Independent Contractor fleet and pay them fairly, then it needs to become an employee fleet under the protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act to ensure drivers paid fairly and nobody should be expected to walk away from any employer or position because they are treated this way but should be given their day in Court seeking solution to the problem. EVERY DRIVER DESERVES ADEQUATE COMPENSATION and drivers that fail to realize this need to be educated as an American Worker not told to find work elsewhere. Is this the kind of job you think your children should settle for? Government has a responsibility to act upon this and is negligent in failing to do so.