July 23, 2015
By Bhairavi Desai
NYTWA Response to David Plouffe and Comptroller Stringer
New York, NY – Uber's David Plouffe has proudly proclaimed on CBS that the "vast majority of Uber drivers, they or their spouse have other full-time employment." That pretty much sums up Uber's jobs creation: if you have another job already, then you can make money on the side through Uber.
But don't expect to raise a family on Uber income alone. This proliferation of part-time work comes at the expense of drivers already working full-time on the job. And it justifies for Uber why there should be an unending number of vehicles. If you only create part-time work, then you can lower incomes, have unending competition, and fragment the work day and call that flexibility.
Mr. Plouffe also claimed that "taxi drivers, limo drivers, almost all of them are independent contractors, so it's no different than the Uber model." Wrong. Across the country, where limo and taxi drivers lose a commission of their earnings to a company, are directly dispatched and have other levels of control – they have been found to be employees. Uber is looking to dismantle these gains by workers and using Walmart's top notch anti-worker lawfirm – Gibson Dunn Ted Boutrous, Jr. which defended Walmart in their attempt to defeat class certification in, Walmart Stores v. Dukes, a gender discrimination suit filed by a group of women of color – to do it.
Uber has also been trumpeting discussions to abolish national labor laws and describing them as antiquated in the eyes of Uber innovators – not because they don't cover the millions of workers who've been misclassified through the years, but because of the workers they do still protect.
Would Comptroller Stringer call Walmart innovative for retail service, put their growth above other policy concerns, then say we need to look into the working conditions and call that helpful to workers? Because that's the pass he gave to Uber.
Workers struggling to make ends meet – something getting harder with more congestion and unending competition – shouldn't be an after-thought. We have been clear from day one: unending congestion undercuts driver incomes in all sectors. Let the cap be a start to at least address an immediate issue.
*** Bhairavi Desai is Executive Director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance and can be reached at (718) 706-9892.