Uber has thrived on a model that lets it put distance between itself and those freelance drivers who operate for the company. However, a movement in Seattle may be about to give Uber plenty to think about and could change the way in which the company works with its “employees”.
In fact, drivers who work for Uber are not employees at all really. Instead they are freelancers who use the company’s platform to connect with passengers who they can pick up in their area/city. This disconnect has allowed Uber to build a massive business very quickly, expanding around the world often against local laws and regulations.
The company’s billing as a technology company lets it get away with a lot that it wouldn’t be able to if it were a traditional taxi provider. In Seattle things may be about to change from a driver perspective as the city of Seattle given Uber drivers the right to unionize.
This is a trailblazing decision that makes the city the first place in North America where Uber drivers can now form a union. The very nature of the decision also feels like it is setting a very clear precedent that other cities and nations will now follow.
While the move is unlikely to solve immediate problems, such as how authorities accommodate Uber into their regulations, it does change labor standards and has the potential to create rules in which Uber must follow with its employees. Drivers would suddenly have more control and influence over how much they earn from a fare, whether they are entitled to tips, and so on.
In worst case scenarios Uber could be forced into increasing prices to accommodate increasing financial demands of its drivers. Drivers have long complained that Uber is hardly a standard bearer for the way it treats those who work under its banners. Stories of being ignored by the company when there is a problem abound.