Tens of thousands of low-wage workers flood the streets demanding higher pay – Bryce Covert November 29, 2016


Fast food workers, Uber drivers, childcare providers, home health aides, airport workers, healthcare employees, and adjunct protested on Tuesday.`

The movement, which now calls itself the Fight for 15, is demanding a minimum wage of at least $15 as well as the right to unionize. And Tuesday’s day of action proved just how massive it has now become. Strikes and protests weren’t limited to New York City — they reached 340 cities. Fast food workers were joined by a variety of low-paid people, including childcare providers, home health aides, airport workers, healthcare employees, adjunct professors, and, for the first time, Uber drivers.

Uber drivers went on strike in more than two dozen cities. They were joined by striking hospital workers in Pittsburgh as well as a number of fast food employees across the country.

Many airport workers, including baggage handlers and cabin cleaners, also went on strike for the first time. A group walked off the job at Boston’s Logan International Airport, while more than 500 went on strike at Chicago O’Hare. They were backed up by protests at nearly 20 other major airports.

A number of other workers and supporters were arrested for acts of civil disobedience. In Detroit, Michigan, home care worker Renita Wilson was arrested at 5 a.m. while demanding she be paid $15 an hour, be allowed to join a union, and have access to affordable health insurance with a client she cares for, Carl Watkins, at her side.

Uber drivers, fast food employees, and airport workers were also arrested outside of McDonald’s restaurants in a number of cities, including Cambridge, Chicago, Detroit, and New York City. Organizers said tens of thousands of people joined the protests.

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Judge: California Drivers Can Go Class-Action to Sue Uber – DAVEY ALBA 09.01.15.6:41 PM


A federal judge in San Francisco  has granted class-action status to a lawsuit brought by three Uber drivers against the on-demand ride company.

The decision issued today by US District Judge Edward Chen means as many as 160,000 Uber drivers in California could join the case seeking mileage and tip reimbursement from the company, presently valued at $51 billion. The drivers can now collectively challenge the company on the main issue of worker misclassification—whether drivers should actually be considered employees of Uber under the law rather than independent contractors.

The decision applies to all UberBlack, UberX, and UberSUV drivers who have driven for Uber in the state of California at any time since August 2009. However, it excluded Uber drivers who work for a third-party company and more recent drivers who are bound by Uber’s 2014 arbitration clause. For now, Chen also did not grant class-certification for related expenses, including gas and vehicle maintenance.

“This decision is a major victory for Uber drivers,” says Shannon Liss-Riordan, the Boston lawyer who is representing the Uber drivers in the case.

“It will allow thousands of Uber drivers to participate in this case to challenge their misclassification as independent contractors, as well as to attempt to recover the tips that Uber advertised to customers are included in the fare, but are not in fact distributed to the drivers.”

In arguing against class-action status, Uber tried to show in court that the idea of a typical Uber driver was a false notion, meaning that no individual plaintiffs could truly represent the interests of all drivers.

“We are likely to pursue an appeal of this decision because it is based on several key legal errors,” says attorney Ted Boutrous of Gibson Dunn, the firm defending Uber in the case.

“The mountain of evidence we submitted to the court—including the declarations of over 400 drivers from across California—demonstrates that two plaintiffs do not and cannot represent the interests of the thousands of other drivers who value the complete flexibility and autonomy they enjoy as independent contractors.”

The Future of On-Demand

Judge Chen’s ruling comes as the debate around how to properly classify workers for on-demand companies is heating up. As startups like Uber and Instacart have gone mainstream, so have criticisms of the so-called 1099 economy. These startups often employ freelance contractors, a classification the companies contend is desirable because the work is more flexible than a regular 9-to-5 job. Some critics are calling for broader protections for these workers, who do not receive benefits like Social Security, Medicare, and workers’ compensation and cannot unionize. Others complain that classifying workers as contractors allows companies like Uber to save up to 30 percent of payroll tax costs, which gives them an unfair competitive advantage.

 

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Uber’s Desperate Fight to Avoid a Massive Class Action Suit – DAVEY ALBA 08.07.15. 7:58 PM


Shannon Liss Riordan, the labor lawyer representing Uber drivers in litigation against the ride-hailing company. JOSH VALCARCEL/WIRED

Silicon Valley behemoth Uber is no stranger to court battles. Still, this week saw the tech giant face one of its biggest courtroom confrontations yet: Trying to convince a judge to block a lawsuit from proceeding to class-action status.

On Thursday, the company with a whopping $51 billion valuation, went before US District Judge Edward Chen for a hearing in which the judge pondered whether he would grant class-action status to the suit, which seeks mileage and tip reimbursement for 160,000 Uber drivers in California.

The hearing comes as on-demand companies like Uber, Lyft and Postmates surge in popularity and reach, creating a vast pool of cheap, flexible labor. According to the nonprofit Freelancers Union, 53 million Americans now work as freelance contractors. That’s about one in three US workers. And the American Action Forum says independent contractors account for nearly 29 percent of all jobs added between 2010 and 2014. And the so-called 1099 economy already appears to be emerging as a key issue in the upcoming 2016 presidential campaign.

But even as on-demand companies move into the mainstream, critics are calling for broader protections of workers, who as independent contractors do not receive benefits like Social Security, Medicare, and workers’ compensation and cannot unionize. A slew of complaints about the loss of such benefits has rocked the industry and could threaten the entire business model of the on-demand economy.

In June, the California Labor Commission ruled that a San Francisco-based Uber driver should be considered an employee and should receive compensation for mileage and other expenses. (The decision, which Uber is appealing, does not carry the force of court precedent.) In what could be considered pre-emptive moves, some companies, including Instacart, Luxe, and Shyp have announced plans to convert some or all employees to part- or full-time status. Just this week, food-delivery startup Sprig joined them, and company CEO Gagan Biyani said the lawsuits facing other on-demand companies were a factor in the decision.

Of these suits, the one facing Uber is the furthest along. It could be weeks before Chen issues a decision on whether to elevate the suit to class action status. Should he do so, the suit could involve the largest number of plaintiffs against an on-demand company so far.

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http://www.wired.com/2015/08/uber-class-action-lawsuit/

Uber security breach revealed 50,000 driver’s license numbers – Al Jazeera February 28, 2015 4:13PM ET


Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at Feb 28, 2015 4.23

A security breach at Uber, a ride-hailing service, may have disclosed the names and driver’s license numbers of about 50,000 drivers across multiple states, the company said in a statement on Friday.

The data breach involved current and former Uber drivers, and the company has notified attorneys general in states where those drivers live, including California.

“To date, we have not received any reports of actual misuse of any information as a result of this incident,” the company said. However, Uber advised drivers to monitor their credit reports for fraudulent transactions.

The company has raised more than $4 billion from prominent venture capital firms such as Benchmark and Google Ventures, valuing Uber at $40 billion and making it the most valuable startup in the United States.

Uber also filed a lawsuit in a federal court in San Francisco on Friday against the unnamed individual who accessed the company’s files. Such litigation can be used to help uncover who committed the breach.

Uber said the breach occurred in May 2014 and was discovered in September. The company said it changed database access protocols and began an investigation.

Reuters

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http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/2/28/uber-security-breach-of-50000-drivers-licenses.html