There is even more proof that Uber could be the best friend the labor union movement has in the United States. Uber Black service and SUV drivers in Dallas staged a strike, complete with a picket line, outside Uber headquarters on Sept. 18, NBCDFW reported.
The drivers were upset because of a new Uber policy that requires them to pick up cheaper uberX customers whether they want to or not. For those of you unfamiliar with it, Uber has three tiers of service, uberX, which provides cheap rides in economy cars at a low price, Uber SUV, and Uber black, which provides luxury car rides.
Uber is proving hedge fund boss Michael Novogratz’s claim that a former CFO at the networked transportation company told him that the only way the service could make money was to gouge its drivers. Uber is claiming that it is not violating any contracts that it has with the drivers by paying the same commission to all drivers.
That has the drivers pissed off because the base fare for UberX in Dallas is $1, plus a 10¢ a minute, or 85¢ a mile, according to uberestimate.com. There’s also a $1 service fee and a $6 cancellation fee with a minimum fare of $3.50. In contrast, UberBlack charges a $7 base fare, 35¢ a minute, $3.45 a mile, a $10 cancellation fee, and a $15 minimum fare. Uber SUV charges a $14 base fare, 45¢ a minute, $4 per mile, a $10 cancellation fee, and a $25 minimum fare.
Get the picture, folks? Uber drivers are being forced to pick up lower paying customers whether they want them or not. To make matters worse, they might miss out on higher fares because they’re hauling an uberX customer around.
A group of drivers voiced their displeasure with this situation by going on strike during a Garth Brooks concert, where demand was high, and putting up a picket line at Uber headquarters. No word on whether the Teamsters are organizing the Dallas Uber drivers, but I imagine that it is coming.
Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa Jr. has to love Uber – it’s making his job a lot easier. One has to wonder how Uber can stay in business if it creates nothing but conflict with governments, its own drivers, cab drivers, and passengers. How this is supposed to be the business opportunity of the 21st century is beyond me.
Instead of being the networked future, Uber looks more and more like a catalyst for old-fashioned labor strife. It also raises a whole series of legal questions, such as how can a union represent drivers that are independent contractors and what exactly are Uber’s contract obligations to drivers and vice versa.
That means lawyers are going to love Uber because it will generate lots of lawsuits and lots of business
for them. I imagine Uber’s attempt to force the Black and SUV drivers to haul uberX customers is going to land in court sooner or later. So we’ll have yet another Uber lawsuit on our hands that will create even more problems and raise more questions for everything involved.
Perhaps the governments that are banning Uber have the right idea. This business model seems to create more problems than it solves and may not do the public any good. One has to wonder when the Uber labor strife will spread to other cities and when the unions will get involved.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Hoffa Jr. needs to send Uber CEO Travis Kalanick a nice thank you card because he’s ensuring that organized labor is going to have a very bright future in the 21st century. I have a feeling that isn’t the future that Uber and the tech geeks that love it had in mind, but it is the one that Mr. Kalanick is building for us.