Last week, the California App-Based Drivers’ Association (CADA) met in El Monte, California on to formalize its affiliation with Teamsters Local 986, officially giving drivers in the smartphone-based ridesharing industry a voice in their workplace.
CADA was established earlier this year in an effort to unite drivers who work for companies like Uber, which have quickly gained popularity as a part-time gig in a sluggish economy.
Drivers have often complained about unsafe, deceptive, and unfair business practices mandated by Uber. “The company’s manifest indifference to the plight of its drivers, coupled with a series of misleading attacks on legislation aimed at protecting driver, consumer, and public safety ultimately led drivers to form CADA,” said CADA leadership council member Lotfi Ben Yeder.
Some CADA members felt manipulated by Uber when they were persuaded to invest in “late model Lincoln Town Cars” earlier this year, and then after a few months, “notified the drivers that those same Town Cars would be degraded to the economy platform, where the fuel-to-fare ratio makes it impossible for the drivers to earn a living wage.”
Like many workplaces, female Uber drivers have often found themselves subject to sexual harassment and gender discrimination, but has little recourse but to put up with it.
“One female driver recounted how a client sexually harassed her and created a hostile environment during a ride, but she feared abruptly ending the ride because a negative client rating could lead to her deactivation from the Uber platform. After the ride was completed, she complained to Uber about the sexual harassment, with no meaningful response.”
Some UberX drivers also complained about the tipping system with Uber, complaining that Uber leads its customers to believe that the tip is included in the fare, which is not the case. (Once a customer finishes a ride, they get a text message where they rate a driver, and then decide whether or not to tip.) Uber drivers have more expenses that regular taxi drivers. “One driver recounted how on a recent $4 fare, Uber kept $1.60, gas was 80 cents, a bottle of “complementary” water was 45 cents, and the cost of commercial insurance for the ride amounted to 40 cents, leaving him with a take home of 75 cents for the trip and no tip, because it is ‘supposedly’ included.”
“We look forward to working with CADA to help the drivers win fairness in the workplace and help them get recognized for the work they do making Uber and other app-based companies successful,” said Chris Griswold, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 986 in South El Monte. “These app-based companies need to start treating their professional drivers with the respect and dignity that they deserve.”
CADA was going it alone until Uber management flat-out refused to meet with CADA’s steering committee, and privately stated that Uber would refuse to recognize any association that seeks to speak on behalf of drivers.
CADA then reached out to Teamsters Local 986 for organizational and lobbying assistance. At the meeting, CADA members “expressed concerns about driver safety, and arbitrary and punitive treatment by Uber,” according to the press release. Drivers also say that they’re unable to protect themselves from sexual harassment and abusive treatment from customers “due to a non-transparent and biased rating system.”
The Teamsters will be working closely with CADA to help find way for Uber workers (and similar services) will have a voice in their working conditions.