The nation’s biggest state has confirmed that Uber employees are employees and not some other bullshit designation constructed by scumbag corporate lawyers to allow the multi-billion corporation to avoid paying them full benefits.
“Defendants [Uber] hold themselves out as nothing more than a neutral technological platform, designed simply to enable drivers and passengers to transact the business of transportation,” said the California labor commission ruling, referring to the controversial company’s self-description as a “logistics company” as opposed to a taxi service, and its drivers as “entrepreneurs” as opposed to taxi drivers. “The reality, however, is that defendants are involved in every aspect of the operation.”
Uber lends its drivers a special phone. If you’re an Uber driver, they deactivate you from its app if you remain inactive 180 days or longer. Which you probably won’t do if you bought your car through Uber’s subprime automobile financing, which Uber CEO Travis Kalanick brags keeps drivers under Uber’s thumb because you’re forced to work like a fucking dog to make your payments. It’s the old company store model.
Because California is influential and has huge market share nationally, the Uber ruling could mark a precedent in other states for the company, and for “sharing economy” models in other sectors, like Airbnb.
American corporations have been twisting language for years, avoiding paying full benefits to full-time workers who, under federal law, are clearly full-time employees. But courts and regulators, perhaps sniffing the sweet smell of civil unrest in the rarified air of capitalism, are starting to push back.
In August 2014 a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled that 2,300 FedEx Ground drivers had been illegally misclassified as “independent contractors” rather than employees. “FedEx avoided health care, workers compensation, paid sick leave and vacation, retirement and more. FedEx made drivers pay for their uniquely FedEx branded trucks, FedEx branded uniforms, and FedEx scanners. Plus, fuel, insurance, tires, oil changes, maintenance, even workers compensation coverage,” Forbes reported at the time. “Add in missed meal and rest period pay, overtime compensation, and penalties. Some “independent contractors” even had to pay wages of employees FedEx Ground required them to hire to cover for them if they were sick or needed a vacation, to help out during the Christmas rush!”
Other worker-abusing companies that have been slammed by independent contractor misclassification lawsuits include Macy’s, the NFL, Sleepy’s, Penthouse, Lowe’s, Jani-King, DirecTV, BMW and SuperShuttle.