Uber called its recent union deal ‘historic.’ A new complaint alleges it was actually against the law.
The Uber app has long made its customers upload their own photo for use on the app’s front page with a request to “send this to a driver named X.” Many drivers even sign up with Facebook or LinkedIn so their names are more visible.
In exchange for that feature, a driver must pay $12.99 for the app’s usage. In late October, the company announced a new feature called “Drivers Only.”
This week, San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLASE) sent Uber a complaint, saying the company failed to pay its drivers for usage of its app, as well as a few extra perks like having the drivers’ names on the app’s front page. They also allege the company tried to negotiate the union away with its employees.
OLASE filed its complaint on behalf of six former Uber drivers and three former Uber managers who worked at the company’s San Francisco Bay Area offices. The complaint alleges many of the new drivers signed away their “Employee ID Cards,” which give employees the right to unionize. They now must use the “Driver ID Card” instead.
“As we have in the past, OLASE filed the complaint against Uber to force the company to comply with state law,” said Andrew D. Rossman, the attorney who filed the complaint. “Under the California Labor Code, drivers cannot be forced to pay dues to a union without first giving their consent.
“However, using the ‘Employee ID Cards’ and the ‘Driver’s ID Card’ instead of ‘Employee ID Cards’ and ‘Driver’s ID Cards,’ Uber is forcing drivers to pay dues to an organization that has no employees, no directors, and no officers: the Teamsters Union. That is absolutely illegal and the complaint is about it.”
OLASE’s complaint cites several cases involving other companies that force drivers to pay dues to unions they don’t represent even when the drivers don’t want to. In one case, the company forced drivers to pay dues to the National Mediation Board, which represents