Uber drivers seek alliance with the Teamsters Union to fight for Better Benefits.

Drivers with the online transportation and ride-sharing company Uber are joining together with the Teamsters Union in an effort to obtain better benefits. The goals of the drivers and the Teamsters Union are primarily to re-classify Uber drivers as employees of Uber. Currently, drivers with Uber are classified as independent contractors and must supply their own insurance and retirement plans. However, the efforts of the Teamsters Union as well as the Uber drivers themselves may soon change that.

Efforts on the West Coast

In California, the joint forces of the Teamsters Union and Uber drivers have created the App-Based Drivers Association (ABDA). The organization will collectively bargain for better wages, benefits, and to reclassify Uber, Lyft, and other app-based ride-share drivers as “employees” and not “independent contractors”.This will be especially beneficial to California Uber drivers, since the company’s home turf is in San Francisco. It is the hope of ABDA to inspire similar efforts in other states. Uber maintains that unionization doesn’t make sense for ride-share services because most of their drivers only work part-time. The company recently started a campaign to convince drivers to resist unionization.

Teamsters International Vice President Rome Aloise stated recently, “We welcome any Uber drivers seeking to improve their working conditions. By coming together, the Teamsters will help these drivers have a stronger voice and improve standards for rideshare drivers in California.” ABDA will have a long fight ahead of itself, however, as Uber and Lyft are already fighting a law that would allow contractors- including Uber and Lyft drivers- to organize in unions in Seattle.

A message from your Business Manager

I want to wish everyone a Happy Spring season. The local has been somewhat quiet as of late compared to all the activity we had at the end of last year. However, we are continuing to build our Inside Construction work picture. We are looking at a number of projects in the area, including solar farms, shutdowns, and other electrical work. Compared to where we were just a few short years ago, we are much better suited to take on the challenges afforded to us.

We are focused on building our Outside program from the ground up in much the same way as our inside program.  For the first time in this Local’s history, we have an outside apprentice, working under the SELCAT (Southeastern Line Constructors Apprenticeship Training) program. We anticipate transmission lines and other power projects will be on the horizon. We are already in the mix, holding meetings with outside contractors about wind farms in the eastern part of our Jurisdiction. Our intent is to make this a local on par with other locals here in the Carolinas as we all share in the pride of work.

The membership has voted to empower the Board of Directors of the Corporation (all officers of the Local) to sell the property that we have outgrown so we can continue to build our programs and membership. We are in the early stages of negotiating the property sale, so we will still be here at this location until late this year or early next.

I want to remind everyone that 2016 is an election year, on the National, State, Local and….IBEW 553 level. I would encourage everyone to make your voice heard, vote your conscience, and participate in the most important civic duty afforded to us as Americans and Union members- the power of the vote.

I am proud to be the Business Manager of our Local Union.

-Tony Swift

DOL’s Final “persuader rule” is another win for unions

*This story excerpted from HRMorning.com*

By Christian Schappel

On the heels of National Labor Relations Board’s “ambush election” rules taking effect, unions have scored another win on the organized labor front. 

This time, the win comes directly from the DOL, which hasn’t been shy about showing its support for organized labor lately.

The DOL just published a final rule amending the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act.

The rule has been dubbed the “persuader rule,” and it requires that employers, lawyers and labor consultants disclose to the DOL — and therefore to a union — any arrangements made that may result in persuading employees when it comes to organizing or bargaining collectively.

Sound pretty broad? That’s because it’s meant to be, and employment law attorneys are saying this is a big win for unions.

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The rule essentially reinterprets the act’s “advice exemption,” which had always said arrangements between employers and their consultants or attorneys did not have to be disclosed as long as the employers’ consultants and/or lawyers didn’t communicate directly with employees.

Now, any payment or arrangement made on or after July 1, 2016 with an attorney or third-party to obtain guidance on employees’ union organizing efforts must be disclosed to the DOL and made public.

Opponents of the rule are saying this is a huge infringement on the attorney-client privilege, and unfairly — and perhaps unjustly — helps unions gain a foothold in non-unionized operations.

In fact, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued a statement saying:

“The persuader rule overturns the long-standing interpretation of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act’s ‘advice’ exemption in order to require new and complicated reporting for attorneys, consultants, and other professionals who advise employers about certain labor matters. By expanding reporting requirements and making it more difficult to comply, the goal of the persuader rule is to discourage attorneys from offering labor relations services.  Ultimately, this will limit employer access to counsel and stifle employer speech, thereby providing more opportunities for unions to catch unsuspecting employers mistakenly running afoul of complicated labor laws.”

Employment law attorneys say employers can bet on the rule being challenged in federal court, where opponents will try to block its implementation.

The attorneys at FordHarrison have said that it’s likely any lawsuit seeking to block the rule’s implementation will use the argument that the rule is an “improper imposition into attorney-client communications.”

If a court grants a temporary restraining order, the rule could be kept from going into effect for as long as it take the legal process to run its course.

To read more  about the “persuader” rule, you can find more about it in the original article.