July 15, 2015
Compiled by Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Uber Argues that Drivers Really Are Independent
In a 52-page brief filed July 9, in a federal court in San Francisco, Uber is trying to quash a class-action suit by drivers who contend that they are employees and not independent contractors.
The company argues that its more than 160,000 American drivers are independent contractors because “they control their use of the app” and the three plaintiffs can’t qualify to represent drivers as a class because there is “no typical driver.” It is citing Walmart Stores v. Dukes, the 2011 case in which the Supreme Court denied a class-action suit against Walmart for racial discrimination on the grounds that decisions about raises and promotion were made by individual managers. Labor lawyers call that logic flawed, noting that classifying drivers as independent contractors is a company-wide policy. “That people have flexibility in their work hours does not make them independent contractors,” said Shannon Liss-Riordan, a Boston lawyer representing the drivers. A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 6.
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NLRB to Rule on Staples Postal Services
The National Labor Relations Board will rule in August on whether the Postal Service’s outsourcing services to Staples office-supply stores violates its collective bargaining agreement with the American Postal Workers Union. About 1,000 Staples stores now have counters where people can buy stamps and ship packages through the Postal Service—but the salespeople make about $8.50 an hour, about one-third as much as an average post-office employee. The APWU is arguing that the Postal Service violated its collective-bargaining agreement by illegally subcontracting work to Staples without negotiating with the union. Last month, the NLRB’s Baltimore regional director ruled that the arrangement violated the National Labor Relations Act. “This ruling represents an important step forward in the battle against the privatization of our nation’s public Postal Service,” APWU President Mark Dimondstein said in a statement. The hearing is scheduled for August 17.
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