Probably the hardest thing I have had to face in my attempts to get drivers to unify is the drivers lack of knowledge of what they as a organized body can actually do to improve their lives as drivers for the Ride-Hail companies such as Uber and Lyft. Currently ride-hail drivers nation-wide are working for below minimum wage, are not adequately insured, and as noted recently have no protections to ensure they even make it home at the end of their shift. Recent attempts to hold a work stoppage/strike action was met with very little support from within the drivers circle. This is because drivers do not believe they have a say, or have any form of worker rights because they are employed as Independent Contractors. History is jamb packed with Independent Contractors that stood up to their unethical employers . . . The NTWA did what they had to. (see below)
“National Taxi Workers’ Alliance (NTWA) is a United States labor union that was founded in February 1998 by organizers in New York City, as the New York Taxi Workers’ Alliance. On August 3, 2011, the NTWA made history when it became the 57th affiliate of the AFL-CIO. NTWA is the first non-traditional workforce made up of independent contractors who don’t even work for an hourly wage to be granted membership into the AFL-CIO, the oldest labor federation in the country. The Executive Council of the AFL-CIO voted unanimously “to include the NTWA into the house of labor with a national unionize taxi drivers throughout the United States”. The union is made up of 200,000 taxi workers operating 100,000 vehicles serving 1 billion riders per year. NTWA is committed to a vision of labor organizing that is multi-ethnic, multi-generational that fights for labor justice. Through strategic national campaigns, capacity building, and comprehensive research on labor issues, NTWA strives to raise awareness and demand justice on critical issues such as protection on the job, reasonable wages and benefits, legal rights, and dignity for all unionized taxi cab drivers in their two local chapters.”
Drivers working for the ride-hail companies outnumber Taxi Drivers at least 10 to 1 nation-wide. Uber gives a conservative number of close to 300,000 but the numbers are larger because Uber has many drivers that have reduced their driving because of the way Uber treats their drivers. If you consider the other ride-hail companies such as Lyft and SideCar there is likely 500,000 drivers nation-wide. My point is, there are far more ride-hail drivers than there are Taxi Drivers and there is strength in numbers.
Drivers need to understand that we as a workforce simply need to unify for the betterment of drivers nation-wide and take the necessary actions to bring about change. There need not be violence. There need not be harm to the ride-hail companies that would subject them to financial loss. And, there need not be reason to take further abuse from our employers. We simply need to unite and stand together to bring about change, to earn a decent wage, and to be treated with dignity.
Workers that drive for the ride-hail companies are an odd lot of every ethnic, educational, and income group that have one thing in common, they like their job. Almost every single driver enjoys the people, the driving, and the freedom of being a driver. The drivers simply want to be paid fairly and treated with respect by their employers. Most of America believes that being hired in the role of “Independent Contractor” means you have no worker rights, no say in the contract bound to, ands no right to fair treatment. This is the United States of America. All workers have rights. All workers are entitled to a safe work place. All workers are required to be compensated fairly. And, nobody has to take shit from an employer that does not recognize the American Worker is not just the workers upon their payroll, but every hard working person in this mighty nation that has a family to support and seeks a future for themselves.
I call for the unification of all drivers working in the ride-hail industry regardless of car level. I ask you join the US RIDE-HAIL DRIVER’S ASSOCIATION or any other driver’s association that serves for the betterment of all Ride-Hail Drivers and help us bring about change that will allow us to hold our heads high and the ability to support our families, and feel secure in our employment without fear of reprisal or exploitation by our employers. There is no reason that we cannot achieve the same success as the NTWA, except our own failure to stand up and have our voices heard.