Wall Street Journal | Letter
In “Democrats vs. Democrats on the Sharing Economy” (op-ed, July 29), Allysia Finley reveals a total lack of understanding of how young adults view Uber and the gig economy. Millennials are intelligent enough to both appreciate the opportunities of the sharing economy and to aspire to make this new economy work better for workers. Young and old alike can enjoy the benefits of Uber while also wishing for its drivers to have basic protections.
For too long Uber drivers were without a voice, without a seat at the table, without protections. As the founder of the first union-affiliated organization for Uber drivers, I am proud of our work to advocate for New York City’s 35,000 Uber drivers and we stand ready to support Uber drivers struggling for better working conditions everywhere. Unions have a sacred history of standing by America’s workers and as the job landscape shifts we must remain active and engaged so that no segment of our workforce is left without a voice.
James Conigliaro Jr.
Independent Drivers Guild
The Independent Drivers Guild Calls On Uber to Offer In-App Tipping Option; Launches Passenger Awareness Campaign
New York, NY — Today, the Independent Drivers Guild (IDG) is launching a new campaign to urge Uber to make tipping easier for Uber passengers by creating an in-app tipping option. The IDG is an affiliate of the Machinists Union (IAMAW – District 15) and represents more than 35,000 Uber drivers serving New York City. The labor group surveyed its membership and the lack of an in-app tipping function was the top issue of concern that drivers wished to bring to Uber management at their monthly meeting.
The IDG will also launch a campaign to raise passenger awareness about tipping Uber drivers. The Guild will make stickers available, free of cost, to all drivers to post in their vehicles to let New York City’s Uber passengers know that tips for good service are appreciated.
“Passengers and drivers alike want tipping to be as easy as possible. It’s time for Uber to offer passengers an in-app tipping option,” said Jim Conigliaro, Jr, founder of the Independent Drivers Guild.
“Many passengers are unaware that tipping Uber drivers is permitted or expected. With these stickers, we hope to clarify that tips for good service are allowed and appreciated,” said Uber driver Ronny Paulino. “Tipping makes a huge difference for drivers. When I drove for a service that allowed in-app tipping, those tips were enough to pay my family’s grocery bill for the week.”
Uber passengers pay for their rides through an app, not through cash, but currently the app does not allow passengers the option to tip their drivers. While Uber competitors, including other apps and taxis, give passengers the flexibility to tip in the app or on their credit card payment screen, Uber does not. This has led to fewer tips and confusion for passengers, some of whom have told drivers that they weren’t sure if tipping was permitted — or already included in the fare.
Other passengers tell drivers they wish they could tip in the app. In-app tipping makes tipping faster and easier for passengers. Part of Uber’s appeal is the ability to pay without spending time on a cash or credit card transaction in the vehicle and many passengers apologetically tell drivers that they can’t tip because they don’t have cash.
“With the Guild providing workers a direct line to Uber management, drivers can create real change that puts more dollars in their pockets. Making tipping easier is one way we can do that,” added Conigliaro, Jr. “We are committed to continuing the fight for policies that help Uber drivers make a fair living, while continuing to provide reliable and affordable rides.”
As part of the tipping campaign, the Guild will do community outreach as well as launch a petition and social media campaign this summer to show Uber there is both passenger and driver support for an in-app tipping function.
Since the launch of the Independent Drivers Guild in May, the Guild has taken a number of steps to stand up for drivers. The IDG has helped drivers bring concerns about deactivation to Uber’s attention. Simply by flagging deactivation concerns for Uber, the IDG has helped get drivers reinstated and will help more appeal their deactivations at the first hearing scheduled for late July. Additionally, the IDG has raised concerns about driver support from Uber management, including an inability to get support personnel on the phone in a timely manner. As a result, Uber has taken steps and made commitments to improve communications.
All New York City Uber drivers are represented by the IDG and can receive tipping stickers as well as access to expert deactivation representation and discounts on important benefits, including insurance and roadside assistance. Drivers who wish to learn more about the IDG can visit DrivingGuild.org or text DRIVE to 64336 to learn more (msg and data rates may apply).
New York Daily News | Dan Rivoli
Uber is getting a tip from its drivers’ group: Make it easier for passengers to tip.
The Independent Drivers Guild, which represents Uber’s 35,000 drivers in the city, is calling on the famously anti-tipping e-hail company to let passengers pay a gratuity through the company’s app instead of digging for cash at the end of a trip.
In the meantime, the guild is helping drivers get the word out that it’s OK to pay extra for good service by providing stickers that say, “Tips for service are appreciated!”
The guild is also launching a social media campaign and petition drive to show Uber that passengers will still use the service even if tipping becomes a part of the experience, said Jim Conigliaro, founder of the guild, which was created in May.
Read the full article here:
Washington Post | Fredrick Kunkle
Uber has given its blessing to a New York City drivers organization that formed as an affiliate with an established union.
The Independent Driver’s Guild launched Tuesday in partnership with the International Association of Machinists (IAM) District 15 in what appears to be a significant development in the six-year struggle between the San Francisco-based ride-sharing company and tens of thousands of its drivers.
The new Independent Drivers Guild, which claims an estimated 35,000 members in New York City, will give all current and future Uber drivers there a regular forum to discuss workplace issues, offer benefits such as discounted legal services, roadside assistance and life insurance, and provide an avenue to air grievances or appeal deactivation, according to a statement issued by the Machinists and Uber.
Read the full article here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/tripping/wp/2016/05/10/uber-recognizes-first-drivers-association-in-new-york-city/?utm_term=.9bb8c43ea39e
Wall Street Journal | Douglas MacMillan
After tangling with drivers in the courtroom and on the streets, Uber Technologies Inc. is softening its stance and giving some of them a seat at the table.
The largest ride-hailing company on Tuesday said it has agreed to work closely with a group of its drivers in New York City to give them a voice on issues such as fare changes and driver deactivations.
The drivers group hopes to create a fund to offer benefits such as paid time off and retirement savings accounts to as many as 35,000 drivers in the city, many who work full-time schedules for Uber.
The labor agreement is a conciliatory move for Uber, which has been working in recent weeks to quell unrest rippling across its army of one million drivers. Hundreds of drivers gathered at the company’s New York offices in February to protest rate reductions that have made it harder for many of them to rely on Uber as a primary source of income.
New York’s Independent Drivers Guild may represent a first step toward giving drivers a voice in the ride-hailing business. Its members will be invited to regular meetings with Uber management to raise their concerns. And they will be eligible to receive discounts on life insurance, roadside assistance and other benefits covered by the guild’s administration costs, which Uber will help to fund.
“No topic is off the table for discussion and the guild will aggressively pursue any number of ways to increase drivers earnings, benefits and protections,” said Jim Conigliaro Jr., founder of the Independent Drivers Guild.
Read the full article here:
Labor agreement sets new standard for worker representation and benefits in the on-demand economy
International Association of Machinists (IAM) District 15 forms “Independent Drivers Guild” to represent all current and future drivers using Uber in New York City
Uber and IAM to jointly push for new state legislation to level the tax playing field for drivers, with money going back to drivers and the creation of a new benefits fund
NEW YORK – The International Association of Machinists (IAM) District 15 and Uber today announced an agreement through which IAM will represent all current and future for-hire vehicle drivers using Uber in New York City. Under the five-year agreement, IAM has formed an affiliate, the Independent Drivers Guild (drivingguild.org), to give the 35,000 drivers using the app a strong voice as well as new protections and benefits. This demonstrates Uber’s ongoing commitment to improving communications and building a more productive relationship with drivers.
For twenty years, IAM District 15 has been a leading advocate for drivers in New York City, and to date is the only group to have successfully represented black car drivers. The Uber-IAM agreement will ensure drivers using Uber have a higher standard of protections and support than other independent contractors.
Under the terms of the agreement, drivers will participate in meetings with Uber management on a regular basis, which will give them an additional voice and the ability to discuss the issues that matter most to them. Drivers in New York City will also now have the ability to appeal certain deactivation decisions, in addition to the protections afforded them by Uber’s new national deactivation policy.
Drivers appealing a deactivation decision will have the opportunity to sit down with a panel of highly rated and experienced peers who will hear the appeal and vote whether to uphold or reverse the decision. Drivers can have Guild representation in these deactivation appeal proceedings.
Drivers will also gain access to discounted legal services, life and supplemental disability insurance, education courses and roadside assistance, along with an online worker center, providing a central hub for driver assistance and resources.
This agreement is a result of conversations and negotiations initiated by IAM in late 2015.
In addition, the Machinists Union and Uber will campaign for a level playing field—with rides on Uber, taxi and private hire being taxed at the same rate for the first time. This would not only mean more money for drivers, it would also free up resources for a new benefits fund administered by the Guild in consultation with drivers, which could include paid time off, a legal defense fund, a disability fund, retirement savings accounts or an immigration assistance fund.
Also announced today, Freelancers Union will serve as a key advisor to Uber on how to best bring portable benefits to independent workers in the on-demand economy. The 300,000-member Freelancers Union provides affordable, portable benefits to independent workers and has a long history of building complex, networked platforms and solutions to help workers pool resources and achieve healthcare stability. The Independent Drivers Guild plans to utilize this resource to explore bringing benefits to drivers using Uber in New York.
James Conigliaro, Jr., Independent Drivers Guild Founder said:
“For the first time, drivers using Uber are coming together to form a drivers’ guild that will give them a seat at the table with Uber management and critical new protections and benefits. Forming this Guild is crucial for thousands of drivers who need a stronger voice and gives organized labor an opportunity to shape the new economy in a way that supports and values workers and their families.”
David Plouffe, Uber Chief Advisor and Board Member said:
“Drivers are the heart and soul of Uber. This agreement with the International Association of Machinists will offer protections that are designed to match the independence and flexibility they have come to rely on. We’re committed to working with and supporting the driver community.”
Sara Horowitz, Freelancers Union Founder and Executive Director said:
“We have an opportunity today to create an innovative solution for one of the most pressing problems facing freelancers, and to bring stability and protections to independent work. The workforce is changing and it’s our job to make sure our safety net keeps pace. I commend the Machinists for taking this important step.”
James Conigliaro, Sr., General Vice President, IAM International said:
“For nearly twenty years, I have personally been involved in a campaign to better the lives of black car workers in NYC. While we’ve made significant achievements in the past, the Independent Drivers Guild is an historic leap forward. The guild is bringing together more drivers than ever before to advocate for benefits and fairness in the workplace. In negotiating the first guild for drivers using Uber, the Machinists are not only standing up for the 35,000 drivers in New York, but also blazing a trail for workers and unions across the country.”
Mario Cilento, President, New York State AFL-CIO said:
“Today’s agreement between Uber and the Machinists represents a giant step forward for workers in the sharing economy. This will not only raise industry standards, it will give for-hire drivers a voice and ensure due process. I look forward to this agreement being a catalyst for change in kickstarting the broader conversation around labor and technology.”
Vincent Alvarez, President, New York City Central Labor Council said:
“I commend the Machinists for taking this important step to ensure that for-hire drivers benefit from all the dignities, rights, and protections they deserve. Through this landmark agreement, drivers using Uber will enjoy the highest standard of support in the industry.”
Rev. Al Sharpton, President and Founder of National Action Network and National Civil Rights Leader said:
“Today’s historic agreement is a victory for the hardworking individuals who form the bedrock of the innovation economy. This agreement should set a national example for ensuring that workers’ rights are not only protected, but also that their voices are rightly heard and valued as instrumental to the success of the sharing economy.”
Muhammed Barlas, Former IAM Union Member, Current Uber Driver-Partner said:
“Being an independent driver comes with perks—like freedom and flexibility—but also real challenges. Back in 1999, I joined the Machinists union and they fought to give us the kinds of protections and benefits many workers in other industries take for granted. I was glad to have the union in my corner then and I am glad they are standing up for me and all of New York’s drivers now.”
Bassam Assaad, Uber Driver-Partner said:
“As a driver, I work really hard to provide for myself and my family. I love that Uber gives me the opportunity to be my own boss and set my own hours, and this new agreement helps me feel more secure. I thank the Machinists for giving me a voice to discuss my needs as a driver-partner and I look forward to my continuing my relationship with the company.”
Uber announced an agreement on Tuesday with a prominent union to create an association for drivers in New York that would establish a forum for regular dialogue and afford them some limited benefits and protections — but that would stop short of unionization.
The association, which will be known as the Independent Drivers Guild and will be affiliated with a regional branch of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union, is the first of its kind that Uber has officially blessed, although Uber drivers have formed a number of unsanctioned groups in cities across the country.
“We’re happy to announce that we’ve successfully come to agreement with Uber to represent the 35,000 drivers using Uber in New York City to enhance their earning ability and benefits,” said James Conigliaro Jr., the guild founder and assistant director and general counsel at the International Association of Machinists District 15, which represents workers in the Northeast.
The agreement is Uber’s latest attempt to assuage mounting concerns from regulators and drivers’ groups about the company’s labor model, which treats drivers as independent contractors.
Read the full article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/11/technology/uber-agrees-to-union-deal-in-new-york.html