By Doug Cunningham
Uber is the target of a class action lawsuit for wage theft filed on behalf of Uber drivers and the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. Hundreds of millions of dollars in wages stolen from tens of thousands of drivers are at stake.
The suit also alleges minimum wage violations, an illegal arbitration agreement requirement and mis-classification of drivers as contractors when they in fact operate as employees.
“Where Uber operates a transportation network company model where they dispatch fares for hire to private motorists and personal cars, it completely de-professionalized the work, turned a full-time profession into temporary gig work and displaced hundreds of thousands of full-time tax drivers—(a) majority of them people of color and immigrants,” said Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. “This is such an assault on low-wage workers, on immigrant workers and on workers who are in non-traditional employment situations that are the most vulnerable. And we, as a labor movement as a whole, if we don’t step up, this is going to seep into so many other sectors.”
Desai says drivers are going after Uber in New York both in court and at the National Labor Relations Board to challenge the multi-billion dollar “gig economy” company on several fronts, including forced arbitration agreements it makes its driver sign.
“While we filed at the federal court we simultaneously filed at the National Labor Relations Board. So we filed unfair labor practice charges over the actual mis-classification as well as the arbitration clause itself. One way that we’re addressing the arbitration is we’re asking the NLRB for injunctive relief to enjoin the arbitration clause,” he added. “So we want the NLRB to step in and recognize that the arbitration is a real violation of workers’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act.”
California Domestic Workers Fight to Maintain Overtime Pay Rights
Over 100,000 domestic workers in California are fighting to retain their overtime pay.
In 2013, the CA Domestic Workers Coalition won overtime for workers who live in the home providing care for children, the elderly or the disabled. The law is set to sunset on at the start of next year.
“Right now, we’re fighting so that the bill does not sunset. There’s large support from unions on this bill. There’s large support even from homecare agencies who in the past have been against providing overtime payments. We’ve built a large coalition of household workers and employers who really see the need to make overtime for household workers permanent. We’re going to have to fight this piece by piece, overtime being the first piece of a much larger agenda to ensure labor rights parity for domestic workers in California,” said Maegan Ortiz, executive director of the Institute for Popular Education of Southern California, which does education and advocacy through four workers’ centers in Los Angeles.