Is Not $8.55/hr!
Read how the extraordinary costs
of self employment, combined with
the real dangers of driving,
invalidate any comparison
of rideshare wages to an
Bamboozled state governments
ignore rideshare problems...
So some cities take things into their own hands...
Two witty marketing professionals discover the smelly side of the "gig economy"
19th century labor problems resurface in today's tech revolution
Gone are the days of happy fist-bumping drivers.
“However, recent misbehavior, such as (Theranos), circumventing regulators (Uber), attempting to silence reporters (Uber), misogynistic culture (Uber), trying to infringe on intellectual property (Uber) and spying to thwart competition (Uber), all behoove the question: Do the rules not apply to Unicorns?”
Roomy Kahn, Forbes Contributor
“This isn’t a battle to turn back the clock on technology and innovation, nor is it about denying worker freedom or employer control. It is about economic justice.”
Veena Dubal, associate professor of law UC Hastings College of Law
“While Uber and Lyft and the lobbying groups and politicians backing them are trying to portray their public relations campaign as a grassroots movement of people and businesses who want ridesharing in Western New York, it is not in actuality about the grass roots or sharing. It is a sophisticated and cynical effort to manipulate public opinion and manufacture consent via a network of corporate lobbying organizations and the politicians beholden to them. The campaign is the work of billionaires – like Uber CEO Travis Kalanick – spending millions of dollars to convince Western New Yorkers to allow the exploitation of local workers so they can extract money back to the Silicon Valley.”
Robert Galbraith, Public Accountability Initiative
How Uber and Lyft are putting passengers in danger by choosing cheaper background checks for drivers
““The background checks used by Uber and Lyft to screen potential drivers leave large loopholes for a dangerous felon to give you your next ride.”
Shelly Brown, Associate Writer at CNET’s download.com
“Drivers are facing financial hardship. 44% of drivers report difficulty paying for work expenses such as gas, insurance, and car maintenance. 55% of drivers would prefer to earn a set hourly wage after expenses.”
Institute For Research On Labor And Employment. UCLA Labor Center
“Sharing economy firms have the ability to monitor and channel behavior of all participants and may be using this capacity to everyone’s
detriment but their own.”
Ryan Calo & Alex Rosenblat Columbia Law Review
“In South Africa, extreme inequality means that drivers have a much more difficult time turning a profit with the ride-share service. Critics,…. along with many Uber drivers, believe that Uber unfairly profits at the expense of the workers who make its service possible in South Africa.”
Kimon De Greef, The Atlantic
The Adoption, Utilization, and Impacts of
Ride-Hailing in the United States
“After using ride-hailing, the average net change in transit use is a 6% reduction among
Americans in major citie.
We find that 49% to 61% of ride-hailing trips would have not been made at all, or by walking,
biking, or transit.”
Institute of Transportation Studies ◦ University of California, Davis
Uber and the labor market
Uber drivers’ compensation, wages, and the scale of Uber and the gig economy
“The Uber driver W-2 equivalent hourly wage is roughly at the 10th percentile of all wage and salary workers’ wages, meaning Uber drivers earn less than what 90 percent of workers earn. The Uber driver W-2 equivalent hourly wage falls below the mandated minimum wage in the majority of major Uber urban markets (13 of 20 major markets, which include 18 cities, a county, and a state).“
Lawrence Mishel, Economic Policy Institute
“When you hop in an Uber or hail a cab, your driver is most likely an independent contractor, and thus unable to receive the traditional benefits and protections that many workers receive from their employer.“
Natalie Foster, advisor to the Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative & David Rolf founding president of SEIU 775.
“Not only does the introduction of ride-sharing seem to not reduce congestion, it actually increases the number of car registrations by 3 percent. Most importantly, Barrios et al. find that the introduction of ride-sharing increases the number of fatal accidents by 3 percent (in the aggregate, this is equivalent to 987 extra lives lost every year in the United States alone).“
John M. Barrios, University of Chicago, Yael V. Hochberg, Rice University and NBER Livia Hanyi Yi, Rice University
“The mistake made in so much of the debate surrounding the gig economy is to assume it is a modern issue caused by digital technology. It is not. Gig economy companies succeed because of how they apply, or fail to apply, long-standing and robust employment law.“
James Temperton, WIRED Opinion
“The gig economy, no matter its size, is a symptom of a larger problem: Workers aren’t making enough, and have nothing else to fall back on.“
Monica Putts, Talking Points Memo
“The problem isn’t Uber or any other ride-sharing company. The soft spot is us as users of those services. Uber et al do only what we enable them to do. And whatever their sins, they’re only a symptom, not a cause, of our social architecture shattering into micro-particles.“
Peter Stockland, Cardus
“Washington, DC—A new report finds that many large corporations operating in the United States have boosted their profits by forcing employees to work off the clock, cheating them out of required overtime pay and engaging in similar practices that together are known as wage theft“
Philip Mattera, Good Jobs First & Jobs With Justice Education Fund
How Silicon Valley Lobbyists Secretly Pushed Texas Regulators to Rewrite the Rules of the Gig Economy
“Documents show that lobbyists for Handy.com dictated a rule to the Texas Workforce Commission that would give legal shelter to gig economy companies who don’t want to treat workers like employees.“
Justin Miller, The Texas Observer
“But a New York Times investigation found much of the devastation can be traced to a handful of powerful industry leaders who steadily and artificially drove up the price of taxi medallions, creating a bubble that eventually burst. Over more than a decade, they channeled thousands of drivers into reckless loans and extracted hundreds of millions of dollars before the market collapsed..“
Brian M. Rosenthal, New York Times
“Sharing’ was supposed to save us. Instead, it became a Trojan horse for a precarious economic future.
Sharing was supposed to transform our world for the better. Instead, the only thing we’re sharing is the mess it left behind.“
Susan Cagle, onezero.medium.com
“*Vehicle damage can add up quickly
*Riders will take their time
*Figuring out a schedule that works for you can be tricky
*Know your numbers
*Going to the restroom isn’t always easy
*Taxes can get complicated …
*It’s a lonely job
*Not all riders know the rules“
Graham Rapier, Business Insider
“As Lacy put it in an interview soon after Kalanick’s ouster, ‘The thing that’s gonna kill Uber has nothing to do with who’s at the company, has nothing to do with scandals, has nothing to do with any of this. The thing that’s gonna kill Uber is when Uber finally has to charge what it costs to get a car to you.’”
Doug Henwood, JACOBIN
“The fatality rate for Uber and Lyft drivers is 14.6 per 100,000 full-time workers, with percentile rank 19.4. This indicates that 80.5% of jobs have lower fatality risks and 19.3% have higher fatality risks. For GrubHub drivers, the non-fatality rate is 205.7 per 10,000 with percentile rank 9.0; the fatality rate is 24.8 per-100,000 with percentile rank 10.6. My estimates also indicate that Uber and Lyft drivers face fatal risks that are 1.1 and 2.6 times the fatality rate for police officers and firefighters. The corresponding estimates for GrubHub drivers are 2.0 and 4.4.”
Paul Leigh, professor emeritus Department of Public Health Sciences, UC Davis.
“According to the San Francisco-based study, the median commission that drivers lost out on over the course of 37 rides was around 39.01 percent — much higher than the 25 percent claim that Uber makes.
Further, a majority of the Uber drivers that participated in the study earned less than $10 on a majority of their rides. After you factor in additional automobile and other independent contractor expenses, you’ll quickly see your effective hourly wage decrease — especially on shorter rides.“
“The growth of shared and on-demand mobility over the last decade has presented challenges for urban transportation and policy. While this growth in Transportation modes is expanding the number of mobility options available to Angelenos, it is also impacting congestion, impacting the incumbent taxicab industry, and thus, requires attention. “
Sam Schwartz Engineering, For The Los Angeles Department Of Transportation
“On-demand jobs are among the most dangerous in the country. In particular, for-hire transportation, the largest segment of on-demand work, is a very hazardous industry. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs are killed on the job at a rate five times higher than the average for all other workers. They are among the highest risk of all jobs for occupational fatalities from homicides and motor vehicle accidents.“
National Employment Law Project
“Uber’s employees co-authored academic papers with brand name scholars that were then used to back the company’s PR and lobbying strategy. Published in respected journals, those articles are based on proprietary data and non-replicable analysis. Moreover, they all don’t discuss the subsidies that make it possible for Uber to pursue market dominance despite its endless losses“
Stigler Center at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
“Uber’s narratives reduce everything to emotive battles between good and evil. If Uber’s success is inevitable, and resistance is futile, no one needs to waste time examining any actual economic or financial data.“
Hubert Horan, Stigler Center at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
“Similarly, the motivations for doing independent contractor work are likely varied and more complex than the prevailing narrative of individuals actively choosing self-employment for flexibility or self-fulfillment.18 In low-wage occupations in particular, workers such as janitors employed by subcontractors may be forced to accept independent contractor status, even though they are clearly employees.“
UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, & Institute for Research on Labor and Employment
“The real-world data suggests that today Uber-like services bring more emissions and congestion, and an incentive for people who did not use cars before to do so. While cities like London and Paris have been pursuing the objective over the past 15 years of reducing car trips, the arrival of Uber and the increase in the number of taxi-like PHV services have done little to reduce car activity in cities and the uptake of Uber licenses coupled with the requirements for relatively new high mileage cars suggests that additional car trips have been added to the city streets where they operate. We estimate that only in three cities, the emissions of Uber services could be as high as half a megatonne of CO2, equivalent to the emissions of a quarter of a million privately owned cars. In the UK, taxi and taxi-like services CO2 emissions have grown 23% since 2012.“
UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, & Yoann Le Petit & Thomas Earl, Transport & Environment
“…it is estimated that in 2018, almost 38.5 percent of total TNC Vehicle Miles Traveled in California was deadhead miles.
(Figure 12) demonstrates that the TNC vehicles on average travel roughly 10 miles per hour slower than their California vehicle fleet counterparts. This can impact the TNC fleet average in-use fuel economy relative to that of the California passenger fleet.”
California Air Resources Board
“Earnings are so low for self-employed unincorporated independent contractors that over a quarter (27 percent) are covered by Medicaid while 20 percent do not have any health insurance coverage. The occupational fatality rate for self-employed workers is over three times as great as it is for private payroll employees.“
The New School’s Center For New York City Affairs
“Many gig-based business models help customers take advantage of workers. Let’s stop giving tech companies a free ride.
Americans are willing to spend extravagantly on their smartphones. Now it’s time they also spent a little more on the artificially low-paid labor those phones have made possible.
The gig economy has become a part of our daily routines. But workers shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of a business model that works only when they are exploited.“
Editorial Board Of The New York Times
“We’ve seen a lot of disinformation as a service campaigns,” says Zarine Kharazian, assistant editor at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, who reviewed the anti-AB5 network’s social media activity for CNET. “This seems to be targeted harassment as a service, which is an adjacent but distinct phenomenon.“
Dara Kerr, CNET
“Gig workers around the world are facing dangerous conditions and unstable income due to the pandemic. The Fairwork Project, part of the Oxford Internet Institute, published a study in April on the impact of Covid-19 on gig economy workers. The study found no evidence of companies acknowledging worker demands or collaborating with independent worker associations. To the contrary, they found instances of platforms trying to suppress worker efforts to organize.“
Martha Pskowski, Vice
“California’s Prop 22 could set back labor standards, particularly for nonwhite workers, for decades.
If Prop 22 passes, it would reach far beyond a couple hundred thousand drivers in California working in food delivery and ride-hailing. It would send shock waves all over the country, becoming the basis for a formalized tier of substandard labor that would certainly be exported, across numerous industries and millions of workers, and internationally as well.“
Alex Sammon, American Prospect
“Exclusive: (The Young Workers Centre) Survey reveals almost all are paid per delivery and a quarter of riders have been in an accident.
The survey found that the average age of riders is 26, while three-quarters are temporary visa holders such as international students, or people on working holiday or bridging visas. Just one in 10 surveyed was an Australian citizen.
One-quarter of surveyed couriers had been in an accident, with one in eight sustaining injuries such as concussions, knee injuries, broken bones or dislocations.“
Paul Karp, The Guardian Australia
“None of Prop 22’s offerings come close to what drivers will receive if voters reject it and drivers remain regular employees instead of independent contractors. Even worse, Proposition 22 would lock in these serf-like conditions, since it will require an unprecedented 88 percent vote by the state legislature and the governor’s signature to change it.“
Steven Hill , author of Raw Deal: How the Uber Economy and Runaway Capitalism Are Screwing American Workers
“Uber is one such company that has invested far more in hiding from its risks than confronting them head-on — a strategy that will only cost the company in the long run.
The road ahead for Uber, Lyft and other gig-economy companies including Postmates, and DoorDash still runs through their ability to tackle these long-term workplace tensions that are inherent in their business models — and they won’t cruise to long-term success by spending hundreds of millions of dollars every time their business models are challenged. The scrutiny will not subside, and these companies would be wise to show their commitments to long-term solutions.“
Dieter Waizenegger, executive director of CtW Investment Group
“Legislatures and voters should beware. Prop 22 codified a system that denies workers full benefits, true minimum wage guarantees and stability — guarantees that are especially crucial during the coronavirus pandemic. In California, gig companies overwhelmed voters and drivers with relentless and often disingenuous ads, text messages, push notifications, emails and even fliers along with their food deliveries touting the benefits of the measure, while outspending their opponents more than 10 to one.“
Greg Bensinger, Editorial Board, New York Times
“One study found that if their California drivers had been classified as employees rather than contractors these last five years, Uber and Lyft would have paid more than $400 million into the state unemployment insurance fund alone. Instead, California taxpayers have had to foot the bill for the significant wage and benefit gaps created by these companies. “
Steven Hill, author of “Raw Deal”
“Allowing masses of underpaid workers to be exploited in order to provide widespread convenience was always a depraved bargain, built on a rickety ethical and economic foundation.“
Jacob Silverman, The New Republic
“Now Uber, after successfully reshaping culture and politics to accommodate its business model, is bending unions, too. Labor groups have to take seriously the prospect that if they don’t come to the table, the companies will write the laws themselves, as they did with Prop 22.“
Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg Businessweek
“In every region in the study, the customers of transportation network companies at least doubled their total vehicle miles travelled compared to the modes they told researchers they would have taken had Uber and Lyft not been around. “
Kea Wilson STREETSBLOG USA, Bruce Schaller, Schaller Consulting
“the exploitative gig economy employment model is not dead but it may be at an inflection point…
Proper classification of workers determines the workplace protections an individual is entitled to and the nature of collective labour rights available to them. Yet, it is often left to workers and unions to fight for these basic rights in court against well-funded and belligerent companies. “
Ruwan Subasinghe, Equal Times
“If you look at the history of labour, the idea of workers having a permanent job, what the International Labour Organization calls decent work, with benefits, with a voice, a union, is something that was won through struggle over a number of decades. What we are seeing here with the gig economy is really a going back to a despotic form of labour relations.“
Musawenkosi Cabe, New Frame
“So this will truly be a year of reckoning for the ride-hailing industry, one that has been allowed to operate for a decade in a manner that many, and now the U.K.’s highest court agrees, have felt to be inequitable. We are going to witness a perfect storm of a fractured business model, inflamed public opinion, and a legal system that may have finally had enough.“
Aaron Solomon, Law.com
“For almost a decade, wealthy and powerful global tech companies have evaded employment protection regulation in Australia by using digital labour platforms to hire vulnerable workers as independent contractors.
The federal government can no longer ignore unregulated work in the gig economy, which has created an underclass of exploited workers who are putting their lives on the line to earn a living.“
Dr. Michael Rawling and Professor Joellen Riley Munton, UTS Law
“Someone call a taxi for Uber, it’s got drunk and needs to go home.“
Matthew Beedham, Shift
“Gig economy mania faded when it became apparent that the business model didn’t make sense for a lot of things — “Uber for X” just didn’t work for most values of X. And thus, an industry that was supposed to transform the face of the U.S. labor market ended up doing very little in terms of changing the way people work”
Noah Smith, Noahpinion
“Since California legalized ride-hailing in 2013, hundreds of passengers have filed lawsuits alleging driver misconduct. Uber and Lyft say safety problems are rare.
The agency responsible for regulating the ride-hailing industry in California has failed to collect consistent data on claims of assaults, threats and harassment on Uber and Lyft rides, a San Francisco Public Press investigation found.”
Seth Rosenfeld, San Francisco Public Press
“Researchers in the field have been the target of legal threats and lawsuits, onerous public records requests and misinformation campaigns from union avoidance consultants, business executives, corporate lawyers and conservative think tanks.”
Jo Constantz, Capital & Main
“It comes without a doubt that front line and blue-collar workers around the globe are scared for their safety. Delivery workers have always had a tough job. Between mitigating fluctuating pay, horrid weather conditions, tiresome robot generated routes, time pressure and disrespectful customers, driving has been associated with one of America’s most dangerous jobs.”
Avi Gopani, Analytics India Magazine
“From California to Massachusetts, companies like Uber and Lyft are promoting legislation that misclassifies gig workers. What’s worse, they’ve convinced some people that their pursuit of cheap labor is actually a crusade for equality.”
Akil Vicks, Jacobin
“Susan B. Sorenson, a professor of social policy at the University of Pennsylvania who has studied the epidemiology and prevention of sexual assault, commenting on the Public Press’ findings last fall, said the commission had not followed standard practice of using clear definitions necessary for gathering reliable data. She also questioned whether the agency possessed flawed data for years and ‘apparently didn’t notice.'”
Seth Rosenfeld, San Francisco Public Press
“Uber is (still) a bezzle (‘the magic interval when a confidence trickster knows he has the money he has appropriated but the victim does not yet understand that he has lost it’). And every bezzle — every bezzle — ends.”
Corey Doctorow, Pluralistic.net
“In many ways, this is like the fight of the Luddites (machine smashers) two hundred years ago at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. While the Luddites were fighting the way technology was used to further exploit rather than liberate workers, they were and are misrepresented as simply being afraid of and opposing technology.”
Michael Rozworski, JACOBIN
“Uber’s business model isn’t based on new technology, but corporate greed and worker exploitation that has been aided and abetted by a political system that has failed to hold the company accountable to basic employment standards”
Chris Brooks, staff writer at Labor Notes
“The digital platform economy excels in creating an illusion of ‘micro entrepreneurship’ without any legal obligation to ensure job or income security. While the popular media narrative has restricted this issue to cab-hailing companies, the problem lies with the very structure of such labour platforms that ignores the rightful obligations of the aggregator platform.”
Ira Anjali Anwar, The Wire
“While Uber promotes itself as a way for drivers to earn extra money to fund their dreams, in truth, most drivers in New York City work full time”
Ginia Bellafante, reporter, critic and columnist for the New York Times
“TNCs have successfully adopted state interference, an antidemocratic legislative practice favored by the gun and tobacco industries and popularized by the ultraconservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), in order to rewrite the law.”
Rebecca Smith, National Employment Law Project
“Simply put, there are huge rewards for companies that can fake it until they make it, and bankruptcy for those who air their dirty laundry honestly. And tech start-ups are the biggest fakers of all.”
Tom Slee, Jacobin
“Instead, the great marketing hype of new corporations in the ‘gig economy’ masks many new ways in which they exploit their employees. This is a great concern for the future of society, and especially for the well-being of us all as workers.”
Mark Graham & Joe Shaw
“Following this, the platforms dependency of network effects also affected drivers work, by constructing the app in favour for riders over drivers. This forced drivers to adapt their work to the demands of riders, constantly chasing good ratings and enduring racist and unpleasant
A Thesis By Ine Geitung
“Figuring that Uber’s app explains its growth is like putting the birthday cake’s appeal down to the candle on top. The engine of Uber’s growth to date has been the US$11.5 billion it has raised from banks and investors. “
“While hours spent transporting passengers showed a large increase, unoccupied hours grew even more quickly. Taxis spent 34,000 unoccupied hours in the CBD in 2013, decreasing to 29,000 in 2017. Meanwhile, TNCs added 37,000 unoccupied vehicle hours. “
Bruce Schaller Schaller Consulting
“So German taxi drivers and small owners are right to fear an Uber invasion. In so many ways, ridesharing has taken the US backwards. It will do the same in Germany, or anywhere else in Europe, if it is not properly regulated. We need to vigorously educate ourselves about the pluses and minuses of platform capitalist companies, and decide how to regulate their services so that we can enjoy the benefits without suffering so many of the severe downsides.”
“Fix Uber, and you might just fix the whole taxi industry. This is a sentiment that rings true for the whole gig economy: for critics of the sector, the perceived worker exploitation is nothing new. What is new is that there’s finally an opportunity, and political will, to do something about it.”
James Temperton, WIRED
“The point of this paper is that even if Uber is not legally the employer of Uber drivers, Uber drivers ought to be permitted to engage in price coordination so long as Uber is permitted to set prices.”
Sanjukta Paul, BERKELEY JOURNAL OF EMPLOYMENT & LABOR LAW
“Many of these rates are below minimum wage, especially after you factor in car costs and other driving-related expenses. It’s a pretty good bet they spend more than $0.34 in gasoline per hour. They also have wear and tear and depreciation on their cars that will eat substantially into their hourly earnings. In fact, at these rates, I would bet they’re not making any money at all, they are probably losing money every hour they drive.”
“I had to pay my cab EMI of ₹10,000 today, but the cheque has bounced as there were insufficient funds in my account. This is all because the company has reduced the per-kilometre fare paid to us and my cab is off-road the past week”
Kailash Korde, Hindustan Times
“Over 12,000 Uber drivers found a way to weaponize the ridesharing platform’s restrictive contract in what’s possibly the funniest labor strategy of the year.”
Bryan Menegus, Gizmodo
“Using data scraped from the application programming interfaces of two TNCs, combined with observed travel time data, we find that contrary to their vision, TNCs are the biggest contributor to growing traffic congestion in San Francisco. “
American Association For The Advancement Of Science
“How do the workers fare?
■ The ILO survey finds that on average across the five platforms, in 2017, a worker earned US$4.43 per hour when only paid work was considered, and US$3.31 per hour when total paid and unpaid hours were considered.
■ Median earnings were lower, at just US$2.16 per hour when paid and unpaid work were considered.
■ Nearly two-thirds of American workers surveyed on the Amazon Mechanical Turk platform earned less than the federal minimum wage of US$7.25 per hour; only 7 per cent of German workers surveyed on the Clickworker platform reported earnings above the German minimum wage of €8.84 per hour,taking into consideration paid and unpaid hours of work.”
Janine Berg * Marianne Furrer * Ellie Harmon * Uma Rani * M Six Silberman The International Labor Organization
The growing use of mandatory arbitration: Access to the courts is now barred for more than 60 million American workers
“Mandatory arbitration discourages employees from bringing claims when their rights are violated.
Attorneys who represent employees are less likely to take on clients who are subject to mandatory arbitration (Colvin 2014), given that arbitration claims are less likely to succeed than claims brought to court, and, when damages are awarded, they are likely to be significantly smaller than court-awarded damages (Colvin and Gough 2015). Attorney reluctance to handle such claims effectively reduces the number of claims that are brought since, in practice, relatively few employees are able to bring employment law claims without the help of an attorney.”
Alexander J.S. Colvin, Economic Policy Institute
Ratcheting Up Workplace Protection April 1, 2019 | David Weil, Brandeis University
The Joint-Employment Standard in Limbo April 2, 2019 | Moshe Z. Marvit, The Century Foundation
Labor without Employment April 3, 2019 | Alexander Kondo, U.S. Department of Labor, and Abraham Singer, Loyola University Chicago
Regulating Non-Compete Agreements April 4, 2019 | Najah A. Farley, National Employment Law Project
The Future Looks Bright for the Right-to-Work Movement April 5, 2019 | Raymond J. LaJeunesse, Jr., National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation
Regulating Work in an Age of Fissuring and Automation April 8, 2019 | Cynthia Estlund, New York University
Who Are Gig Economy Workers?April 9, 2019 | Deepa Das Acevedo, University of Alabama
Is the Fiduciary Rule Dead? April 10, 2019 | Gregory F. Jacob, O’Melveny & Myers LLP
Conflicting Interpretations of Worker Classification April 11, 2019 | Sean Burke, University of Pennsylvania”
Penn Program on Regulation, University of Pennsylvania Law School
Uber and the labor market:
Uber drivers’ compensation, wages, and the scale of Uber and the gig economy
“There has been much hype around Uber and the gig economy. But in our assessment, in any conference on the future of work, Uber and the gig economy deserve at most a workshop, not a plenary.”
Lawrence Mishel, Economic Policy Institute
“This shows that although millennials and Gen Z are trying to make the best of their situation, the vast majority aren’t cobbling together side hustles by choice—they would swap freedom and flexibility for stability and job security in a heartbeat.”
Anne Gaviola, Vice
“The unpredictability of ride-hail driving fuels economic insecurity, which is bad for health. Lyft and Uber maintain a constantly shifting dynamic for drivers as the companies decrease driver earnings per ride, add new drivers to their platforms, and eliminate the promise of flexibility in when and where to drive. As a result, drivers live in a state of chronic stress, driving for low pay with unpredictable earnings and a lack of control while driving”
Human Impact Partners & Rideshare Drivers United
“The negative environmental and social impacts of traffic congestion include increased air pollution, lost time commuting for residents and increased traffic collisions. While Transportation Network Providers (TNPs), or ride-hailing services, are not the sole reason for increasing congestion and gridlock in Chicago, our analysis shows that they are a significant contributing factor warranting action.”
Lori E. Lightfoot, Mayor Of Chicago
“Given the convenience and low cost, Uber has been characterized as a potential countermeasure for reducing the estimated 121 million episodes of drunk driving and the 10,000 resulting traffic fatalities that occur annually in the United States.
We found that the deployment of Uber services in a given metropolitan county had no association with the number of subsequent traffic fatalities, whether measured in aggregate or specific to drunk-driving fatalities or fatalities during weekends and holidays.”
Noli Brazil & David S. Kirk, American Journal of Epidemiology
“Workers in the gig economy are treated as independent contractors despite some working effectively full-time.
All flexibility, no security is great for companies, not so great for workers – despite what conservative think tanks might want you to believe.”
Greg Jericho, Columnist The Guardian Australia
How much does Uber really cost?
Uber adds to pollution and congestion in US cities and in Europe too
“Uber is adding more polluting car trips to already-clogged European cities such as London and Paris, new analysis suggests – contributing to air pollution and climate change and exploding the company’s sustainability claims.
The analysis estimates that in London and Paris alone, the emissions of Uber taxi services could be as high as half a megatonne of CO2. This is equivalent to adding the CO2 emissions of an extra 250,000 privately owned cars to the road.”
Sandra Riano, Transport & Environment
“Uber’s business model is predicated not on technological disruption but on breaking rules. And, having grown through skirting regulation, it doesn’t matter who you put in charge now – Uber ain’t gonna change.”
Andy Pemberton, director of Furthr
“There is no real innovation in the company’s business model, he argues. Its market share is the product of predatory pricing and gigantic subsidies, not of higher productivity.”
Hubert Horan, Stigler Center at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
” But the gig economy — and the absence of worker protections that come with it — is nothing short of a modern-day sharecropping business. And the model costs California $7 billion annually in lost tax revenue. It puts businesses that abide by the law at a competitive disadvantage.”
Lorena Gonzalez, California Assembly
“With the proliferation of rideshare services and other on-demand delivery platforms, more workers are driving for a living. Transportation incidents are consistently the most frequent cause of fatal occupational injuries, accounting for 2,077 deaths on the job in 2017 – or 40 percent of all occupational fatalities for the whole year. Given this high risk, it’s particularly egregious for Uber, Lyft, and other “gig economy” companies to misclassify workers as independent contractors and deny them the basic protections of workers’ compensation as well as OSHA coverage.”
Yasin Khan, UC Berkeley’s Labor Occupational Health Program
“[The case] illustrates Uber’s use of secrecy in responding to lawsuits that accuse it and its drivers of injuring people — and the hurdles that accident victims can face in trying to hold the nation’s largest ride-hailing firm accountable. In many of those cases, court records also show, Uber obtained broad protective orders that have hidden evidence concerning accidents and prevented the public and regulators from learning of safety hazards.”
Seth Rosenfeld, San Francisco Public Press
“The number of ride-hailing accidents is rising as the services boom. But the industry has hidden safety records — with help from its chief regulator.”
Seth Rosenfeld, San Francisco Public Press
New Report Finds Prop 22 (Uber, Lyft & DoorDash Ballot Initiative) to be harmful to workers, communities, and good government in California
“If approved by voters, Prop 22 would ensure that gig corporations could:
*Avoid ever paying for overtime, critical work expenses (such as full mileage expenses or cell phones), or even the state’s minimum wage. These omissions could cost drivers as much as $500 per week in lost wages and reimbursements;
*Prevent workers from accessing a single day of paid sick or family leave or the unemployment benefits many need during this pandemic;
*Deny workers long-term medical or income protections if they are disabled on the job;
*Discriminate on the basis of immigration status – a protection that is crucial given that 56% of app-based transportation and delivery workers are immigrants;
Obscure access to health benefits that would require individuals to work longer hours for far less assistance than advertised.”
Partnership For Working Families
“Uber claims to have “revolutionised” the experience of hailing a cab, but really that experience has largely stayed the same. What it managed to get rid of were steady jobs, unions and anyone other than Uber making money on the whole enterprise.”
Adrian Daub, the Guardian
“After the recession, newly vulnerable workers were forced to take crappy jobs and a decade later, they’re still screwed.
To be clear, it’s not that jobs weren’t created. In fact, strong job creation numbers were flouted every day — first by Obama, then by Trump. It’s just that they weren’t the same sort of jobs as before. A ‘job’ can be a temp position given to a freelancer, a seasonal gig, even a part-time job. According to one study, nearly all of the jobs ‘added’ to the economy between 2005 and 2015 were ‘contingent’ or ‘alternative’ in some way.”
Anne Helen Petersen, senior culture writer for BuzzFeed News and author of “Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation.”
“But legally, being an “employee” means that workers have a broader bundle of rights that their employer must respect. What would gig companies jettison, based on Uber’s proposal? The right to a safe workplace, to minimum wage and overtime pay, to unemployment insurance and employer Social Security contributions and also to form a union and to not face retaliation for asserting any of these rights.
In essence, gig companies want to redistribute the costs of the safety net away from themselves and toward workers and all of us. Indeed, right now, regular employee unemployment insurance benefits are paid for by employer taxes.”
Terri Gerstein, Director of the State and Local Enforcement Project, Harvard Law School Labor and Worklife Program, and also a Fellow in the Program.
“The misclassification of employees as independent contractors predates the emergence of the gig economy and has been a method of skirting the cost of standard worker protections.”
Mark Erlich, Wertheim Fellow, Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School
“While Sam Walton at Walmart helped mainstream fancy titles for low-paid employees, executives at gig companies like Lyft and Instacart have succeeded in passing labor laws that created a whole new legally defined sub-employee class for their workers. The new term for this sub-employee category? ‘Independent contractor plus.’”
Sam Harnett, KQED, San Francisco
“The events of 2020, and especially the campaign for Prop 22, were a mask-off moment for the gig companies. Though they covered up their true business models with empowering language and clever marketing strategies, the pandemic showed them for what they were: companies using the excuse of technology to roll back workers’ rights in service of the power and profits of their wealthy shareholders and, by extension, the entirety of the capitalist class.”
Paris Marx, Jacobin
“Despite the ideal of providing a sustainable mobility solution by promoting large-scale car sharing, our analysis suggests that TNCs have intensified urban transport challenges since their debut in the United States.”
Mi Diao, Hui Kong & Jinhua Zhao, Nature Sustainability
“In California, gig economy giants won the ability to make their own laws. Money will do that for you.
More disheartening still is that they achieved their California win by pouring vast sums of money into a ballot measure—theoretically an avenue of direct democracy—which suggests that their influence extends far beyond the usual suspects of lobbyists and pro-business politicians.”
J.C. Pan, staff writer at The New Republic
“How can we believe that technology will help solve big problems if Uber’s great promise didn’t pan out?”
Shira Ovide, Tech Opinion Writer for Bloomberg and New York Times
“It’s not the algorithm, it’s not the code, it’s not the logo, it’s the people. Either as workers or as customers, both need to be treated with care and respect. In the long term, any business’s brand is worthless without this buy-in. And as Deliveroo are finding out, any business that forgets or ignores this is on shaky ground, that seems to be getting shakier by the day.”
Barney Cotton, Business Leader
“The gig economy is also reproducing interpersonal inequality structured by race and class—think of it as a servant economy. The apps allow the privileged to get personalized services they can afford by the task.
But if the country is serious about addressing structural racism, gig work is one of the practices that needs to be addressed — and soon.”
Juliet Schor, Professor of Sociology Boston College
“Uber’s future is, for the first time, out of its hands. After 12 years of moving fast and breaking things, the slow progress of the courts and the looming spectre of regulation are finally catching up with it. If the Supreme Court ruling lays down a marker, then what comes next will define not just Uber’s future, but the future of the entire gig economy. Faced with a deluge of lawsuits and legislators keen to get a grip on the gig economy, Uber must make a choice: fight in the courts or accept its fate.”
Natasha Bernal, WIRED
“So this will truly be a year of reckoning for the ride-hailing industry, one that has been allowed to operate for a decade in a manner that many, and now the U.K.’s highest court agrees, have felt to be inequitable. We are going to witness a perfect storm of a fractured business model, inflamed public opinion, and a legal system that may have finally had enough.”
Aron Solomon, Law.com
“Even as a public utility, Uber is doomed. The company can’t make money even by robbing workers and restaurateurs, nor by pretending that adding cars will solve traffic jams. Uber is a menace, and while its doom is clear, it’s not going quietly.”
Cory Doctoro, Medium
The relationship between ridehailing and public transit in Chicago: A comparison before and after COVID-19
“• We studied TNC-PT relationship at a spatially and temporally granular level.
• TNC-PT relationship before and during the COVID-19 shutdown is examined.
• Only approximately 2% of TNC trips complement public transit.
• 45% to 50% of TNC trips substitute transit and this percentage drops during COVID-19 shutdowns.
• Crime rate positively correlate with TNC-PT substitution both before and during COVID-19 shutdowns.
Patrick Meredith-Karama, Hui Kong, Shenhao Wanga, Jinhua Zhaoa, Journal of Transport Geography
“Many ride-hail drivers, immigrant or not, come to the apps because they think they’ll be able to make a lot of money, but find that having to cover the costs of gas and auto repairs just ends up sucking them into working more hours to make payments, all the while they’re not building out resumes that could help them find more stable work in the future.”
Rebecca Bellan, TechCrunch
“In writing and passing Prop 22, platform companies like Uber and Lyft obscured the way in which the law created a new racial wage code, claiming instead to offer economic opportunities for people of color and concealing the exploitative conditions endemic to those ‘opportunities.'”
Vena Dubal, Harvard Law And Policy Review
How Uber and Lyft compromised with labor in Washington state — and kept drivers from becoming employees
“While the local Teamsters were intimately involved in crafting and then advocating for the bill’s passage, the local Teamsters’ own national leader vehemently opposed it. ‘This will be the model that sets the tone for the entire country,’ Sean O’Brien, the president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said before Inslee signed the bill. Other national labor groups also urged state Democrats to vote against it. Rebecca Dixon, the executive director of the National Employment Law Project, said that the bill ‘sets a dangerous precedent’ by giving gig-based companies ‘special treatment’ and allowing them to manipulate laws intended to protect workers.”
Anna Kramer, Protocol
“The prevalence of forced arbitration agreements and class action bans enables misclassification of gig workers to continue in many ways. First, forced arbitration precludes workers from resolving their employment status in the courts, and makes it unlikely they can resolve the matter favorably in an arbitral proceeding. Second, even if misclassification is addressed in arbitration, the underlying systemic problem of misclassification will persist because any decision will be non-precedential, secret, and only applicable to the individual workers arbitrating the claim.”
National Institute for Workers’ Rights
“But for the vast majority of workers, the “freedom” of the gig economy is just the freedom to be afraid. It is the severing of obligations between businesses and employees. It is the collapse of the protections that the people of the United States, in our laws and our customs, once fought hard to enshrine.”
Louis Hyman, Economic Historian and opinion writer New York Times
“The implicit wage subsidy paid to Uber by its drivers, in the form of below-minimum wage labour, is large relative to the overall fares and margins generated in this business. It is equivalent to a subsidy paid to Uber (and ultimately its owners) by its Australian drivers, that is worth hundreds of millions of dollars per year. “
Jim Stanford, Ph.D.
Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute
“No single company or interest should have the power to use its wealth the way Uber does, overwhelming democracy’s deliberative and decision-making processes.”
“The recently settled Uber litigation in California illustrates how under current law arbitration effectively extinguishes important worker rights.”
Katherine V. W. Stone, Economic Policy Institute
The Growth of App-Based Ride Services and Traffic, Travel and the Future of New York City
“A continuation of TNC-led growth in travel is not a sustainable way to grow the city. Adding TNC mileage to already congested streets will lead to mounting costs for businesses and consumers from increasing traffic delay and hinder progress toward the City’s goals for mobility, economic growth and the environment. ”
Bruce Schaller, Principal of Schaller Consulting
” As a result, we have shown that labor platforms create uneasy trade-offs for workers, placing new pressures on them in ways that can be harmful, while also providing them with avenues for appealing to weak forms of accountability that may not have existed otherwise in informal work arrangements. Platform policies and practices that create conveniences or consumers may end up amplifying worker vulnerabilities.”
Julia Ticona, Alexandra Mateescu, Alex Rosenblat – Data & Society
“The gig economy offers an important opportunity to grapple with the effects of IACs on workers’ and consumers’ low-value claims. So far, the results are troubling: while it is too early to say what is happening to drivers who pursue arbitration, it is apparent that IACs are impeding the development of answers to questions about drivers’ employment status, and significantly reducing the value of workers’ claims in litigation.”
Charlotte Garden, Associate Professor, Seattle University School of Law
“Research by Uber’s chief economist, Jonathan Hall, and John Horton of New York University found that when Uber raised its fares, drivers initially earned more money. But there were offsetting effects: The higher rates attracted more drivers while reducing the number of trips consumers made. Overall earnings for drivers soon fell back to their previous levels.”
Christopher Rugaber, Associated Press
“The arrival of ridesharing is associated with an increase of 2-3% in the number of motor vehicle fatalities and fatal accidents…”
John Barrios of the University of Chicago, Yael Hochberg and Livia Hanyi Yi of Rice University
“….Ontario’s highest court ruled (Uber’s) process for arbitrating disputes were not only unlawful but “unconscionable…..Uber was improperly forcing its drivers in the province to resolve complaints about pay or other work issues through an international mediation process in the Netherlands. Drivers disputing even small complaints face a steep cost of $14,500 (U.S.) to initiate the process…“
JACQUIE MCNISH, The Wall Street Journal
“Considering the frequency of strikes, the legal ramification may only be to appreciate the legitimacy of drivers’ struggles and giving them their due recognition as a ‘worker’ under the law”
Puneet Shah | Sanchit Kapoorh | it Kapoor, Moneycontrol India
“Ride-hailing giant Uber and aspiring “Uber of home services” Handy, along with other tech-companies-cum-service-providers, have been conspiring with powerful corporate allies and lobbyists on a far-reaching, multi-million-dollar influence campaign to rewrite worker classification standards for their own benefit—and to workers’ detriment. Their goal: to pass policies that lock so-called “gig” workers who find jobs via online platforms into independent contractor status, stripping them of the basic labor rights and protections afforded to employees and allowing the companies to evade payroll taxes and worker lawsuits.”
Irene Tung, National Employment Law Project
“The dirty little secret of Silicon Valley is that seven out of 10 startups fail. I think it’s very possible that Uber is destined to be one of them. But everyone is afraid to say that because a good chunk of Silicon Valley — the venture capital funds, leading companies and influential leaders — are heavily invested in it and hoping to cash in.”
“..the Federal Reserve’s latest report on economic wellbeing in the US. The report, which was released last week [May 21, 2019], found that in 2018, workers who supported themselves through the gig economy struggled financially far more than the average person.”
Alexia Fernández Campbell, VOX
“While ride share companies say they want to do better than the status quo, they continue to fight against this path for gig workers, claiming AB5 would hurt their profitability and cause us to lose the flexibility we love in our jobs. This is a false premise and a false choice.”
Linda Valdivia & David Huerta, Opinion Newsweek
“But Uber’s demonstrated ability to use raw economic power on an unprecedented scale makes the risks to society even worse….
Uber, meanwhile, is unique because it is entirely exploitive. It has not created any sustainable offsetting benefits. The private wealth it has created comes entirely at the expense of the rest of society.”
“Beyond its impact on workers, Uber has made our cities worse places to live. The company has decreased urban public transit usage and even produced a sharp rise in US traffic deaths. And Uber has vastly increased congestion. Last year in NYC, rideshare companies added 85,000 cars per month completing 700,000 trips a day to the city’s streets. If we assume an average of five miles per trip, using EPA metrics, then rideshare companies added 516,110 metric tons of CO2 to NYC’s air — the equivalent pollution of 406,066 flights from NYC to San Francisco.”
Andrew Wolf, JACOBIN
“The firm’s reported costs don’t include the cars’ lost value: almost $11 billion. Once drivers understand that they are liquidating the value of their vehicles, in effect receiving payday loans with their cars as collateral, the effects may be significant. ”
Ken Wiles, clinical associate professor of finance at The University of Texas at Austin & Kep Sweeney, managing director of Acceleron Group.
“Uber and Lyft keep losing money while driving up the number of cars on our overcrowded streets….
THE DISCONNECT IS BETWEEN HOW ANALYSTS TALK ABOUT THESE COMPANIES AND HOW CITIES ABSORB THE EFFECTS OF APP-BASED RIDE-HAILING”
Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge
“This study found that ride-hailing leads to increased VMT and GHG emissions, through increased trip generation, empty travel to pick up passengers, and riders switching from other modes of travel. ”
Caroline Rodier& Julia Michaels, National Center for Sustainable Transportation, UC Davis
“In perhaps the first move of its kind, Ms Joshi’s commission forced Uber to hand over data about its drivers operating in New York.
“What we found out was that conditions were worse than what was described to us by drivers,” she said.
“Ninety-six per cent of drivers were making less than the city’s minimum wage. Most of the drivers were providing the main source of income for their families.”
Carl Miller,NEWS BBC.com
“Better regulating the gig economy is important to ensure everyone benefits from technological change. We need to consider the gains to workers, not just companies and consumers. Is technology going to provide quality jobs and increase people’s control over their work? Or is it going to be used to circumvent the basic minimum wage and drive down working conditions?”
Michael Rawling, Senior Lecturer, University of Technology Sydney & Associate Professor UTS Centre for Business and Social Innovation, University of Technology Sydney
“The GC memo gets the realities of driving for Uber wrong. In reality, Uber drivers do not experience entrepreneurial opportunity. Drivers have no control over the fares Uber charges passengers. Drivers have no ability to grow their business through marketing strategies or subcontracting. In fact, academic research co-authored by Uber’s chief economist demonstrates that drivers have very limited ability to improve their own earnings.”
Lawrence Mishel and Celine McNicholas, Economic Policy Institute
No free lunch, but almost: What DoorDash actually pays, after expenses, and what’s happening with tips
“On average, DoorDash pays just $1.45 per hour worked, after accounting for the expenses of mileage and the additional payroll taxes borne by independent contractors. The average job requires 6.8 miles of driving, and takes 30 minutes to complete.
8% of jobs include gross pay from DoorDash of just $2.
86% of jobs include a customer tip.
Just 11% of jobs pay more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour after expenses, and only 2% meet the standard of $15 + expenses.
Despite the company’s insistence that they are no longer misappropriating tips, our analysis shows that jobs with higher tips tend to have lower pay.”
“Delivery workers across Mexico are under severe pressure. Fatal crashes are a known risk, and reports of robberies are practically a daily occurrence. To protect themselves and each other, delivery workers are turning to messaging apps and social networks to document grievances and rally for change.
To feel safe while making risky deliveries, workers are more likely to depend on each other than company staff on a hotline.”
Martha Pskowski in OneZero
“If the company designs their financial offerings so that drivers must continue to work for Uber in order to pay off their Uber debts or to maintain access to their Uber bank accounts, the company could lock workers in. If the only way you can have a bank account is to drive for Uber, then you might just continue to drive for the company even if you want to stop.
In continuing its foray into the financial services market, Uber may have proven once again that its main claim – that it provides freedom to drivers like Aslam – is also its biggest lie.”
Veena Dubal,University of California, Hastings College of the Law
“All three interviewees are still working. As they drive, SARS-COV-2 may be riding in their back seat, a risk worsened by careless riders. Giacomo estimates that out of ten passengers he picked up, two wore a mask. Antônio’s wife is diabetic, a risk group for Covid-19. He chose to continue working so they could afford her a balanced diet.”
Ana Guerra, Platform Labor
“A California bill would make it harder for companies like Uber to take advantage of workers. Other states should borrow the idea.”
Editorial Board Of The New York Times
“In the past six months, five Uber Eats couriers in Mexico have died in crashes, and dozens more have been injured. Uber’s insurance policy was supposed to help — it hasn’t.”
Martha Pskowski, The Verge
“Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash have unveiled their ballot initiative to undo historic worker protections enshrined in AB5, California’s new law that tightens the criteria for worker classification. The initiative claims drivers will receive a guaranteed pay equal to 120% of the minimum wage (that would be $15.60 in 2021, when the California minimum wage will be $13). Our review of the initiative leads to a very different estimate. After considering multiple loopholes in the initiative, we estimate that the pay guarantee for Uber and Lyft drivers is actually the equivalent of a wage of $5.64 per hour. ”
Ken Jacobs, Chair of the UC Berkeley Labor Center & Michael Reich, Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley and co-chair, Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics.
“Creating buffers, from extended UI to a universal basic income, that support a baseline of broad economic security for all working people (including those who cannot or should not go to work due to health concerns, layoffs, or any other valid reason) could improve the status quo for workers across the wider spectrum of low-wage and unstable work. ”
Alex Rosenblat, Harvard Business Review
“Saying this doesn’t apply to them has no basis in law, and that’s been backed up by the court,” said Catherine Fisk, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “If they cannot provide a business that complies with the law, they need to get out of that business.”
Greg Bensinger, member of the Editorial Board of The New York Times
“Without workers’ compensation, the families of Xiaojun Chen and Dede Fredy may face financial ruin.
Most gig economy workers are not eligible for standard workers’ compensation, said Nick McIntosh, the assistant national secretary of the Transport Workers Union. Under the New South Wales workers’ compensation scheme, the dependants of someone who dies because of a work-related injury are entitled to a lump sum payment of $834,200, and weekly payments of $149.30 for each dependant child until the age of 16.
But deliverers for Uber Eats and Hungry Panda are classified as independent contractors, not employees.”
Naaman Zhou, The Guardian Australia
“These companies have also bought off several nominally “progressive” organizations in a breathtakingly cynical piece of woke-washing — making out as though this assault on the labor rights and incomes of a heavily-minority workforce is actually a racial justice issue, somehow. In particular, California NAACP President Alice Huffman has been publishing absolutely shameless pro-22 agitprop after an $85,000 payment to her consulting firm. (She has done the same routine with several other dubious ballot initiatives this year.)
Of course, if Prop 22 passes, Uber and company will continue to rely on the California government for their basic functioning — from building and maintaining roads, to running the legal system, to providing basic services all their workers and customers rely on, and a hundred other things. It’s a classic Republican Party strategy of quiet authoritarianism: set up minoritarian structures that make it nearly impossible for the people to actually overthrow your power no matter who they vote for. In effect, these companies are trying to colonize the power of the state for themselves.
Californians: Don’t fall for it!”
Naaman Zhou, The Guardian Australia
“Veena Dubal, a labor law professor at UC Hastings, told me that Prop 22’s passage represents ‘the most radical undoing of labor legislation since Taft-Hartley in 1947,’ the law that debilitated the power granted to unions by the New Deal. ‘It will create a growing precariat of people who work very hard and are not able to survive off of their earnings. And it will have an impact on American politics for decades, if not the next century.’”
Wilfred Chan, The Nation
“A new survey of app-based ride-hailing and food and grocery-delivery workers in San Francisco underscores the financial vulnerability of workers in the gig economy—and the coronavirus has made their plight much worse. ”
Chris Benner (UC Santa Cruz) with Erin Johansson (Jobs With Justice), Kung Feng (Jobs With Justice) and Hays Witt (Drivers Seat Cooperative)
“For the driver hourly earnings rate, we find that when Uber raises the base
fare in a city, the driver hourly earnings rate rises immediately as drivers make more money per trip. However, the hourly earnings rate begins to decline shortly thereafter, and after about 8 weeks, there is no detectable difference in the driver average hourly earnings rate compared to before the fare increase.”
Jonathan V. Hall, Uber Technologies / John J. Horton, NYU Stern /Daniel T. Knoepfle, Uber Technologies
“The positive, uncritical coverage prevailed for years and helped pave the way for a handful of companies that represent a tiny fraction of the economy to have an outsized impact on law, mainstream corporate practices, and the way we think about work.”
Sam Harnett KQED, San Francisco
“ I think what we have done is, unfortunately, we’ve allowed some very powerful platform companies to dictate the terms of our public policies.
And that to me is an appropriate thing for public policies and people we elect to think about, not for people in any industry or powerful company to determine for us. I think Prop. 22, and a lot of other things that have happened at the state level, have pushed us, unfortunately, towards defining that based on the interests of a small number of businesses rather than on what we as the public think are appropriate protections.”
David Weil, dean at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University
“The stigma of surviving off odd jobs was mitigated by the status-enhancing fantasy of belonging to the “tech sector.” In reality, corporations have used digital platforms to dismantle labor protections so that 21st century California has come to look more like Colombia or Cambodia.”
Bama Athreya, Inequality.org
“Why lawmakers must hold the ride-hailing industry accountable as they undermine their workers and play by their own rules”
Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO
“You (Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber CEO) want to have your cake and eat it. You want workers at your beck and call without being responsible for them. Rather than complying with labor laws in EU member states you want them to bend their laws to your interests.”
Leïla Chaib, Minister European Parliament
“What we have done so far is challenge Uber to disclosure — what data the app collects, things like GPS trace. But what we really want are inference data. What decisions has it made about me? How has it profiled me? How does that affect my earnings? This is what Uber has not given us.”
Bama Athreya, Inequality.org
“What we have done so far is challenge Uber to disclosure — what data the app collects, things like GPS trace. But what we really want are inference data. What decisions has it made about me? How has it profiled me? How does that affect my earnings? This is what Uber has not given us.”
“Across the world, companies like Uber are using algorithmic control to remain one step ahead of regulators, adopting new technologies to disguise old-fashioned exploitation.
‘These apps guide our behavior through incentives and punishment. If they do it through electronic nudges, then they don’t need to say it. And if you don’t get the message, that’s okay—you’ll just starve.’”
Wilfred Chan & James Farrar, Dissent
“Were such a law (the New York legislation) to pass, Uber and other companies could throw minimum wage and health and safety protections for millions of workers under the bus, putting a giant brake on any Biden administration effort to insure more security and dignity for American workers.
These gig platforms are simply not viable unless they can create a vast pool of drivers and other contingent workers who themselves bear virtually all the risks — from accidents to slack sales — traditionally born by the employer itself.”
Nelson Lichtenstein, professor of history, University of California, Santa Barbara
“This extra driving means that a TNC’s fuel consumption — and by extension its greenhouse gas emissions — are on average about 20% higher than a personal vehicle. More time on the road also means more congestion, more noise, and more potential for vehicle crashes. Considering all of these factors, the team found that opting for a TNC over a private vehicle increases external costs to society by 30% to 35%, or about 32 to 37 cents per trip. This burden is not carried by the individual user, but rather impacts the surrounding community. Society as a whole currently shoulders these external costs in the form of increased mortality risks, damage to vehicles and infrastructure, climate impacts and increased traffic congestion.”
Dan Carroll, Carnegie Mellon University
“16% of Americans have ever earned money from an online gig platform. While most gig platform workers say they have had a positive experience with these jobs, some report facing on-the-job troubles like being treated rudely or sexually harassed ”
Monica Anderson, Colleen McClain, Michelle Favero, & Risa Gellis-Watnick, Pew Research Center
“As case law has developed and platforms matured, employers have become more adept at hiding management control in automated algorithmic processes. The employment misclassification problem continues, but the mask rarely slips. ”
Cansu Safak & James Farrar, Worker Info Exchange
“Uber may say that safety is a top priority, but as its own employees’ testimony shows, when customers or drivers are injured or attacked or worse, victims really are on their own.
Ultimately, Uber is effectively helpless to maintain safety when a ride is underway. And when it knows about heinous acts committed on the rides it profits from, it often does no more than kick perpetrators off the app. ”
Greg Bensinger, Editorial Board, New York Times
Study reveals how platform firms like Uber use a strategy of ‘contentious compliance’ to gain infrastructural power
“The study’s reference to the firms’ strategy as one of “contentious compliance” refers to their technique of adapting to existing legislation to be able to provide their services, while continuing to challenge regulations as aggressively as possible—essentially a push-pull process between firms and governments.
Dr. Valdez said: ‘Firms accept existing rules only because they take every opportunity to expand and display their services; to build the power necessary to continue to push for more favorable regulatory change.’”
Dr. Jimena Valdez, Department of International Politics, City, University of London
“”They don’t do enough when a driver is assaulted,’ said Michelle Dottin, a driver and advocate. ‘Safety, in general, should be for everyone. It shouldn’t be one-sided, and the way that these companies do it, it feels more one-sided — they don’t really worry as much about their drivers.’”
Anna Betts, The Verge
“However, my findings also point to something deeper and perhaps more concerning about the changing nature of work and our relationship to it that transcends app work in the on-demand economy. What I observed and experienced was a system that suppresses workers’ uniqueness, experiences, and future aspirations. It was a system that treated people like lines of code to be deployed instead of humans to be developed. This is problematic because work is not simply the translation of physical and intellectual effort into money. What we do on a daily basis for work is part of our broader life narrative that makes us who we are”
“All that modern technology has done is make it easier, through omnipresent smartphones, to amass a fleet of increasingly desperate jobseekers eager to take whatever work they can get.“
Leo Mirani, Quartz
“It does require a fairly dystopian strain of doublethink for a company to celebrate how hard and how constantly its employees must work to make a living, given that these companies are themselves setting the terms. And yet this type of faux-inspirational tale has been appearing more lately, both in corporate advertising and in the news.”
Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker
“Our city and nation don’t need another gig-economy industry that makes a small percentage of top executives and investors extraordinarily wealthy by exploiting the labor of ordinary workers.”
The Editorial Board of the Chicago Sun-Times
“So if the gig economy is characterized by low pay, a lack of benefits, and a predatory relationship where the business risks are burdened by the worker, why aren’t workers abandoning it? Simple: they have no other options. The gig economy isn’t about helping people who are being left behind; it’s about exploiting them because they have to accept whatever work they can find.”
Paris Marx, The Bold Italic
“On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn’t. He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn’t help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with. It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR.”
Susan J. Fowler, Blog
“States and communities have struggled to protect consumers through regulation of ride-sharing and short-term rental companies such as Uber and Airbnb, because these businesses have successfully used rhetoric and their users to perpetuate a “myth” that their mission is primarily altruistic.”
Amy Stemler, Emory Law Journal
“Private ride TNC services (UberX, Lyft) put 2.8 new TNC
vehicle miles on the road for each mile of personal driving
removed, for an overall 180 percent increase in driving on
Bruce Schaller, Principal of Schaller Consulting
“We fear that, until such proposals are set in train, a growing number of people in this country will find themselves being subjected to ‘sweated labour’ – toiling through anxiety and insecurity, for unsafe lengths of time across seven days a week, in return for poverty pay.”
Frank Field & Andrew Forsey, Members Of UK Parliament
“This paper lays out the economic evidence showing that Uber has no ability — now or in the foreseeable future — to earn sustainable profits in a competitive marketplace. The growth of Uber is entirely explained by massive predatory subsidies that have totally undermined the normal workings of both capital and labor markets. “
” Employees — or contractors — found themselves in a difficult position. They are expected to sign documents giving an employer broad protection when it often is impossible to tell in advance how bad things might be in a systemic way at a company. You only learn when it’s too late.“
Erik Sherman, Contributor Forbes
” He found ride-hailing accounts for an 83 percent increase in the miles cars travel in the metro. Henao said a combined 34 percent of his passengers would have taken transit, walked or bicycled if ride-hailing didn’t exist.“
University of Colorado Denver Ph.D. graduate Alejandro Henao.
” One way or another the free market has found a convenient feedback loop where both the consumer and labor are taken advantage of by the gig economy.“
Jack’s Raging Bile Duct, RHYD
” The second group of economists who should dislike Uber are specialists in labour markets. They know that the standard early industrial practice of pushing down wages as far as possible is bad, for the affected workers and for the whole economy. Uber, however, has not learned the lesson. Its drivers get a rough deal.“
Edward Hadas, Financial Columnist
“The so-called “future of labor” looks like a relic from from Marx’s time.”
Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg Opinion
“Uber misleading its customers is not only unethical but also unsafe — users of this service need to be made aware of the potential dangers.“
Annie Diaz, The Signal
” ….It’s also because, besides its much-touted “flexibility,” the gig economy isn’t much of a place to build a career. Instead, over the course of less than a decade, the self-described “tech companies” that connect people to gig work have managed to erode hard-fought labor protections in place for a century.“
Ephrat Levni, QUARTZ
“Uber raced to global market share leadership in the rideshare sector on the strength of over $9 billion of investment from Softbank’s Vision Fund. But its hyper-growth strategy was based on six critical assumptions that have all proved to be false or yet to be proven.“
Len Sherman, Executive in Residence and Adjunct Professor at Columbia Business School
An Earnings Standard for New York City’s App-based Drivers: July 2018 Economic Analysis and Policy Assessment
“We find that a majority of the city’s FHV drivers work full-time and that 85 percent make less than the proposed pay standard. Hourly pay is low in large part because the industry depends upon a ready availability of idle drivers to minimize passenger wait times. “
James A. Parrott and Michael Reich
Report for the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission
“The technique, which has been used selectively by companies in other industries, may prove to be particularly effective in the gig economy, where workers lack financial stability, said Bryan Schwartz, a Bay Area attorney who’s not involved in the case. It’s an “insidious” move, he said, because recipients likely can’t afford to seek legal counsel and weigh the benefits of holding out for a potentially larger payout from a lawsuit. “Low-wage workers, who are trying to make ends meet, are especially vulnerable,” said Schwartz, who serves on the board of the California Employment Lawyers Association, a worker advocacy group. “They’re going to sign and take the pittance to waive all their claims.”
Ellen Huet, Bloomberg
“Jacobs also emphasized that, while much of the public discussion around AB5 describes it as a change for platform companies, ‘It’s important to note that the Dynamex decision has already been in place for over a year; that’s settled law in California, by supreme court ruling, that they have ignored,’ he said.
Uber and/or Lyft have also settled various lawsuits in these areas, and, because of the nature of most drivers’ arbitration agreements, been able to ‘cabin off’ such opposition and ‘keep their business going, without changing practices,’ he said. ‘There’s a good case to be made that they have always operated by flouting the law … and continuing the practice of: ignore the law, make money, and build up the power to try to change those laws.’”
Janet Burns, Forbes
“Results show that per hour worked, median profit from driving is $3.37/hour before taxes, and 74% of drivers earn less than the minimum wage in their state. 30% of drivers are actually losing money once vehicle expenses are included. On a per-mile basis, median gross driver revenue is $0.59/mile but vehicle operating expenses reduce real driver profit to a median of $0.29/mile. For tax purposes the $0.54/mile standard mileage deduction in 2016 means that nearly half of drivers can declare a loss on their taxes. If drivers are fully able to capitalize on these losses for tax purposes, 73.5% of an estimated U.S. market $4.8B in annual ride-hailing driver profit is untaxed. ‘”
Stephen Zoepf, Stella Chen, Paa Adu, and Gonzalo Pozo, MIT Center for Energy and
Environmental Policy Research
“Companies control their data. They tend to share that data with researchers who use it only in ways that are blessed by the corporations. Thus, important questions aren’t answerable, or worse, the apparent answers might be biased or incomplete.
Is it just a coincidence that studies to which Uber grants data tend to enhance its public image?
In studying digital platforms academic research inadvertently becomes part of the platforms’ lobbying effort, a phenomenon I labeled academic capture.‘”
Luigi Zingales, Stigler Center at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
“I show how in the mid-to late-twentieth century, taxi companies used the independent contractor category to shift the legal and economic risks of business from government and employers to individual drivers. These changes have profoundly shaped the lives and opportunities of vulnerable workers today by rendering precarious their work.‘”
V.B. Dubal,University of California Hastings College of the Law
“(Special Investigative Unit) investigators are coached by Uber to act in the company’s interest first, ahead of passenger safety, according to interviews with more than 20 current and former investigators.
The agents are forbidden by Uber from routing allegations to police or from advising victims to seek legal counsel or make their own police reports, even when they get confessions of felonies.
‘Investigators are there first to protect Uber; and then next to protect the customer’, said Flores, who worked nearly two years for Uber as an investigator and investigations trainer before leaving in November. ‘Our job is to keep the tone of our conversations with customers and drivers so that Uber is not held liable.’”
Greg Bensinger, Washington Post Editorial Board
“The assault on labor law that has resulted in the broad disappearance of worker protections and traditional, full-time employment has been a decades-long campaign. Whose fault is that? Certainly not the handful of attempts that have been made by legislators and courts to defend workers’ rights, while corporate profits continue to break records amid stagnant wages.”
Alexandr Sammon, The American Prospect
“In an extensive new report, Uber details for the first time the number of sexual abuse complaints made to the company in 2017 and 2018.
- The 84-page report reveals several startling statistics:
- 235 reports of rape in 2018, up from 229 in 2017.
- 280 reports of attempted rape in 2018, down from 307 in 2017.
- 1,560 reports of groping in 2018, up from 1,440 in 2017.
- 376 reports of unwanted kissing to the breast, buttocks or mouth in 2018, down from 390 in 2017.
- 594 reports of unwanted kissing to a different body part in 2018, up from 570 in 2017.
In all, Uber received 5,981 reports of sexual abuse between 2017 and 2018.‘”
Conor Ferguson, Stephanie Gosk, Rich Schapiro, NBC News
“But the report does not include thousands of accidents involving the Uber app — both fatal and nonfatal — that the firm knows about.
But by its own account, Uber excluded from its tally of fatal accidents 22 deaths documented in its own records, on the grounds that it could not locate them in the Fatality Analysis Review System, a federal database of traffic deaths. Although Uber cited various reasons why fatalities generally may not appear in this database, the firm offered no details on the excluded cases.
Uber also did not include an unknown number of fatalities that occurred during the period when drivers were logged into the app and awaiting ride requests, such as when an Uber driver fatally struck 6-year-old Sophia Liu in San Francisco in 2013.
And the company’s report did not include any non-fatal vehicular accidents, which in the general population account for the vast majority of crashes in which someone is hurt, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.”
Seth Rosenfeld, San Francisco Public Press
“A non-pooled ride-hailing trip is 47 percent more polluting than a private car ride.
A typical ride-hailing trip is about 69 percent more polluting than the trips it replaces, and can increase congestion during peak periods.
Ride-hailing is an attractive option for many travelers, and can increase mobility for households who lack a private vehicle. Yet in communities across the country, ride-hailing is increasing
vehicle travel, climate pollution, and congestion”
Union Of Concerned Scientists
“The digital economy represents a new layer to globalization, reinforcing the ‘race to the bottom’ by allowing corporations to completely escape the bonds of rule of law. Global legal structures, which had yet to catch up to the problem of accountability in global supply chains, have been caught flat-footed by the new challenges posed by platform sector scofflaws.”
Bama Athreya, Connected2work.org
“I would say the biggest problems are the wages and the availability of work. In the beginning, the wages were really quite good. But now, you have multiple problems on the lower-paid apps. Either wages are not enough, or there’s not enough work. You have too many people chasing too little work.
I say they’re parasites because in order to have a satisfactory experience on a gig work platform, you need another employer or another source of income. If you’re a dependent worker, it doesn’t really work. It’s hard to even earn up to poverty level.
Those conventional employers are paying the benefits. They’re paying the salaries and so forth. The gig platforms are living off that. They’re parasites in the literal sense that they need that host to be able to keep those workers coming. In other words, they’re free riders.”
Kaushik Viswanath, Medium
“Yesterday’s critical workers have been left to fight today’s health crisis with no job, no jobkeeper, no income, and no options.
For their seven years in government, the Liberals have acquiesced to an ongoing business insistence that employment conditions in this country (Australia) be rendered more ‘flexible’. They’ve encouraged award stripping, outsourcing, and the “gig economy”, as well as imposing funding cuts that have obliged public institutions – such as, infamously, universities – into hiring cheaper, casualised forms of labour.”
VisVan Badham, Guardian Australia columnist
“The app-based platform model may simply not be a viable business model in today’s economy. So for the companies, retaining the ability to pay less than minimum wage, avoid taxes, and otherwise externalize costs may be an existential battle.”
Bama Athreya, bamaathreya.medium.com
“This new model, it has become clearer as the fantasy fades, is really the oldest of the old models: That is, disrupting an entrenched business by finding a means — or excuse — to reduce labor costs and skirt regulations.
It’s hardly a new play, of course; using advances in technology to argue labor laws no longer apply to your business has been a practice embraced by bosses since the Industrial Revolution.”
Brian Merchant, Senior Editor, One Zero
Uber-funded ballot measure in California would create “permanent underclass of workers,” expert says
“Proposition 22 is more than just a determination of classification, though. Labor experts fear it will be a major setback for labor rights, the community at large, and that it will send the wrong signal to other states who have been exploring ways to regulate these companies.
They have basically operated as though the law does not apply to them,” Ken Jacobs, the chair of the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, told Salon. “And I think that signals to other states around the country, ‘Don’t try to enforce your laws because we have the political power and resources to defeat you if you do.
1. Very few drivers will actually qualify for health insurance benefits
2. Drivers won’t be guaranteed paid leave or paid sick days
3. Drivers won’t be able to unionize
4. Proposition 22 reverses key worker benefit if there’s a car accident’”
Nicole Karlis, Salon
“They do dangerous work for little reward, and our workplace laws ignore them. Their work is unsafe precisely because it is unregulated. No minimum rate of pay means cyclists have an incentive to take risks to make a decent income.”
Joellen Riley Munton, professor of law, the University of Technology Sydney.
“In a troubling precedent, Uber, Lyft and kidney-dialysis clinics win big in two ways after funding expensive California proposition battles that benefit only the companies and their investors”
Therese Poletti, columnist for MarketWatch
“Labor organizing in California is pushing platform companies to take extreme measures to defend their exploitative business model.”
Bama Athreya, inequality.org
“A civil-justice system in which most low-wage workers cannot, as a practical matter, enforce their rights in court or in arbitration hardly deserves its name. The DoorDash workers’ creative strategy — one also pursued by thousands of Lyft and Uber drivers in 2018 — is a way for workers to reclaim some leverage in a legal environment that employers shape to their own benefit.”
Charlotte Garden, associate professor, Seattle University School of Law
“Uber’s white paper is an attempt to narrowly define the parameters within which the debate about platform working conditions can take place. It is corporate lobbying masquerading as progressivism.”
Shelly Steward, Kelle Howson, Patrick Feuerstein, Pablo Aguera, Fabian Ferrari, Funda Ustek-Spilda, Srujana Katta, Matthew Cole, Mark Graham FAIRWORK
“Five years ago, Travis Kalanick was so confident that Uber Technologies Inc.’s rides would prompt people to leave their cars at home that he told a tech conference: ‘If every car in San Francisco was Ubered there would be no traffic.’
Today, a mounting collection of studies shows the opposite: Far from easing traffic, Uber and its main rival Lyft Inc. are adding to congestion in numerous U.S. downtowns.”
Eliot Brown, The Wall Street Journal
How Airbnb and Uber use activist tactics that disguise their corporate lobbying as grassroots campaigns
“In addition to traditional lobbying, these digital platforms have been cultivating corporate “grassroots lobbying” initiatives in which they resource and mobilise their users to lobby for deregulation or to block proposals or sanctions from government. They do this by using civil-society practices such as online petitions addressed to politicians, one-on-one meetings with representatives, protests and partnerships with existing civil society groups.”
Luke Yates, Lecturer in Sociology, University of Manchester
“These stories illustrate an important truth about these gig companies: They are not actually innovative, in the traditional economic meaning of the word. Instead they rely on the most ancient employer technique of all: plain old labor exploitation.”
Ryan Cooper, THE WEEK
“All this may sound like a definitive victory for thousands of drivers who joined group action last month, to sue the company and demand it recognise them as workers. But it isn’t. Unions claim that Uber has twisted the Supreme Court ruling, which said that workers are entitled to minimum wage as soon as they log on to the app, not just when they are driving people around. They argue this dilution will mean that drivers could miss out on 40 to 50 per cent of their entitled pay while they are logged on to the app, waiting to be assigned a passenger trip.”
Natasha Bernal, WIRED
“Valdez, who is associated with Rideshare Drivers United, says that disappointment in the realities of Proposition 22 was inevitable.
‘The expectation was that the way the companies wrote the law, they would make sure they’d have to pay the least amount of money for anything they did,’ he says.
Through Proposition 22, he says, ‘Uber and Lyft legally made us independent contractors, and allowed themselves to change the system any way they want, to treat us as employees without paying us as employees.’”
Michael Hiltzik, Columnist Los Angeles Times
“Uber may prove the archetype of a new corporate model: never actually producing anything of value, never really innovating; only serving as a throughway for investor capital and drawing money out of communities without any obligation or attempt to put something back in.”
Declan Leary, Associate editor of The American Conservative.
“In the flywheel economy hope and hype spring eternal, at least as long as interest rates remain low and capital is essentially free.
But look deeper and evidence is mounting that business flywheels are not defying the laws of capitalism. The money that went into building them recalls the railway mania among other past speculative investment crazes. ”
Brett Ryder, The Economist
“Uber’s time is up. Uber was never going to be profitable. Never. It lured drivers and riders into cars by subsidizing rides with billions and billions of dollars from the Saudi royal family, keeping up the con-artist’s ever-shifting patter about how all of this would some day stand on its own.”
Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic
“The thing about an Uber is that companies figured out that you could have a giant fleet of drivers on the road at all times, with zero fixed cost to the company. The drivers pay for the car; the driver pays their own time; the driver pays gas; the driver pays insurance; the drivers pay if they become injured; and the city picks up the cost of the road maintenance. So the company shifted all the risk and all the fixed costs of the business to the labor force, which was genius from the investing standpoint, but terrible for drivers.”
Kate Wheeling & Professor Catherine Fisk
“Discussion about the relationship between antitrust and labor law, as well as between workers and entrepreneurs, that is confined to a counter-productive either/or serves no one’s interests except large, dominant employers, who have profited from the inability of any area of law or policy to meaningfully constrain their power. It’s time to put that zero-sum false tradeoff behind us, in favor of a larger vision that recognizes the unity of interest among the disempowered in every corner of the economy and seeks to forge a coalition that might actually have a hope of winning power in this country by securing for its people what they want: a decent standard of living without demeaning service to a brutal plutocracy.”
Marshall Steinbaum, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Utah
“Between digital vows and physical woes exists the world of Uber and Ola. The cab aggregators have failed to deliver on their promises to drivers and customers. As hefty commissions and unfavorable terms continue to hurt drivers, customers are complaining about poor service quality. And these factors are resulting in dwindling business for both.”