Uber called its recent union deal ‘historic.’ A new complaint alleges it was actually against the law. We look at why the deal might be illegal
On Tuesday, Uber announced that it had reached a new labour deal with the country’s main cab trade body, the Alliance of Transport Workers (ATT), by which it would end a six-year-old row over the app maker’s drivers.
The pact – which is still subject to approval by the California-based company’s Board of Directors – would see Uber paying a one-time $15 million fee to the Taxi Workers Alliance after all Uber drivers who were previously active members of the group would no longer be able to use Uber’s app.
The move comes as public perception of Uber has turned up the heat on the company over allegations that it has a history of abuses, ranging from wage theft to sexual harassment and sexual abuse of female drivers.
The company is already facing more than a year of class action lawsuits and a class action in California related to claims that the company’s drivers were forced to work in unsafe conditions, such as without protective clothing, and were required to work overtime.
Uber is also set to continue to compete with other technology services, such as Lyft and Sidecar, which operate in California as well.
The company, which has faced down multiple legal challenges and been forced to admit it was breaking laws around the world in order to remain in business, was also recently forced to agree to a settlement with the city of San Francisco and the state government in Washington over a law that mandates new car companies get special permission to test their vehicles on public roads.
Uber’s current labour pact with the ATT was voted through by members of both unions in a joint conference committee last October.
A new complaint alleges that the decision to end Uber’s partnership with the union was ‘not in line with Uber’s corporate purpose for signing the Agreement’ and had been taken ‘with an eye on harming members of the union who did not support our business model or operating decisions.’
Uber’s ‘business model’ – as the case is now known – saw it profit handsomely from the app, which for a time had access to more than 200,000 drivers while also making a profit from the commission they received for each trip.
The ‘operating decisions’ cited are the decisions in