Drivers in the United States are continuing to turn on Uber in pursuit of being given the benefits of full employees. The company’s freelancing drivers will form a nationwide demonstration where they will “fight for $15” in reference to a campaign across all industries to raise the minimum wage in the US to $15 per hour.
Uber drivers will join protests in two dozen cities around the country, including Boston, Denver, Miami, and San Francisco. In total, 25 cities and 20 of the busiest airports will be locations for demonstrations on Tuesday, threatening to bring the United States to a standstill.
The network of demonstrations has been organized by the Services Employees International Union. The plan is for the government to take notice and raise the minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour. As well as focusing on full employees, the organizers are also seeking a wage increase for the gig economy, or workers like Uber drivers who work as freelance contractors.
Uber drivers are represented by the Independent Drivers Guild, which is not a union per se, but does allow drivers to group together and work for reforms.
Uber vs. Drivers
“Drivers have been fighting back against Uber recently, attempting to wrestle more control from a company that views them as freelance contractors and not employees. Uber was forced to settle (to the tune of $120 million) a Massachusetts law suit from drivers that was attempting to give workers full employee rights.
Considering Uber’s model, giving drivers more power (like rights to training, healthcare, vehicle fixes, and more) was a dangerous precedent that was worth taking a $120 million hit on. That is unlikely to be the only driver uprising though, and already some groups are forming unions and looking to “get more” from Uber.
As a ride-sharing service, the San Francisco based company needs the drivers every bit as much as they need it, maybe more so. However, Uber has taken the first baby steps to a future where it may decide to get rid of drivers.
It has been rumored for some time that the company has genuine aspirations to be at the forefront of the autonomous vehicle wave that is coming in the next two decades. In Pittsburgh, Uber has started testing a self-driving vehicle that completes its service without the need for a driver.
Needless to say, the technology is in its infancy, as is the autonomous industry in general. The first driverless vehicles should hit showrooms in the next two years, but fully autonomous vehicles are not expected until 2025. It could be a quarter of a century until self-driving cars are the dominant mode of transport on our roads, but when it happens ride-sharing will play a big part in how people commute and travel.”