The ride-sharing company Uber has agreed to allow the formation of a guild to represent their drivers in New York. The drivers have formed the Independent Drivers Guild. The guild will allow Uber drivers to meet with managers, appeal driver deactivations, access discounted legal counsel, life and disability insurance, and give access to education, roadside assistance, and an online worker center. However, unlike a union, the guild will not be able to collectively bargain for higher fare rates or retirement plans. The guild is a tandem creation of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers as well as the drivers themselves.
The deal benefits both Uber and the drivers. The drivers receive more benefits than they would otherwise have, and Uber will have far less turnover and enticements for more new drivers, and thus, more profit. Their main competition, Lyft, does not have any kind of system set up for this purpose.
The IAM is also working with Uber to push for equal sales taxes for all Taxis and Livery services in New York state. Currently, Uber customers pay tax as a percentage of the fare, whereas, Taxis and Livery service customers are charged a flat tax of .50. A standard tax would save money for Uber customers in New York and allow more customers to thus use the service.
Uber is working with the Freelancers’ union to bring “portable” benefits to what it calls “on-demand drivers”.