Uber has finally recognized a union of its own drivers. Allow yourself that one moment of exhilaration before moving on to the rest of the details.
The GMB union in the UK (it’s not really an acronym for anything, as it was shortened to General, Municipal, Boilermakers’ and Allied Trade Union about 40 years ago) managed to secure the union recognition of the jaws of the famous anti-work application. business today. As The Guardian reported: “GMB will have access to driver meeting centers […] He will also be able to represent drivers if they lose access to the Uber app, and he will meet quarterly with management to discuss driver issues and concerns. ”
It’s not clear if this arrangement comes close to traditional union representation as we envision it in the United States, or if it looks more like the Independent Drivers Guild – an oversized advocacy group in New York City that meets Uber. and has been widely criticized as a business. union. Drivers will not automatically be registered with the union due to their work for Uber. It’s an arrangement we would call an “open store” on this side of the Atlantic, and the company is pretty sure to profit from it.
UK drivers recently won – through the courts – the right to be considered Uber “workers”, a category separate from “employees” but still providing basic benefits like minimum wage and a pension. However, that ruling did not apply to couriers on the Uber Eats food delivery side, and this new union deal does not cover them. From the start, this new deal leaves around 30,000 Uber workers in the cold. (We contacted GMB and Uber for more details on this oversight.)
GMB has undoubtedly made history here, but Uber’s track record gives viewers every reason to doubt the effectiveness of this new union. The company has a habit of threatening to withdraw from places that do not offer the legal favoritism it expects – Quebec in 2017, for example. He also attempted to rewrite US labor law to suit his business interests, successfully overturning a California law via a proposed ballot in the 2020 election, which cost the company – as well as to fellow Lyft, DoorDash and Postmates travelers – an estimated $ 200 million. Since then, state drivers have said their wages have fallen further. (Uber is currently attempting a similar legal maneuver in New York.)
To make matters worse, one of the parties that helped secure worker status for UK drivers – the Drivers & Couriers Union App – refused to sign a similar agreement for recognition, saying in a statement it said “closer union engagement with Uber management is always a welcome development, but there are good reasons for workers and their unions to be cautious. The group cited Uber’s continued hostility towards workers, in and out of court, in the UK and the US. “For us, respecting the legal minimums should be the starting point of any union agreement with Uber,” the ADCU wrote.
Yet a victory is a victory. “This groundbreaking deal between GMB and Uber could be the first step towards a fairer working life for millions of people,” noted GMB’s charming country manager Mick Rix in identical press releases sent to The edge by the union and Uber, “We are now calling on all other operators to follow suit.”