Uber Technologies said on Tuesday that it will be creating a guild for its present and future drivers in New York in association with a major union that will give protection and benefits to its members. However, it will not form a union itself.
Uber’s strategic adviser David Plouffe said that The Independent Drivers Guild will join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union. Under the five-year contract, it will provide a higher level of protection and support to the drivers than any other contractor.
USA Today reported that the Drivers Guild is the first organisation that Uber has agreed to collaborate with while in other cities, the drivers have formed their own groups. According to Plouffe, the agreement would improve communication levels between Uber and its driver partners “without jeopardising the independence and flexibility drivers love.”
The guild will hold regular meetings in New York City. It will address the issues facing the drivers and will be the platform which they can appeal to if they are barred from using the app. The drivers will also be provided with life and disability insurance, discounted legal services, education courses and roadside assistance by the guild.
The company faced a pushback from parties that include drivers, regulators, and lawsuits for organising the workers, The Washington Post reported. In April, Uber reached a US$100 million (AU$136 million) deal in a class-action lawsuit brought against it by the drivers of Massachusetts and California. The drivers of these two cities demanded that they be given the status of employees of the organisations rather than as independent contractors, Wired reported.
Seattle became the first US city in December to allow its drivers to form a union.
According to Plouffe, Uber will also be campaigning with the Machinists Union to bring rides on Uber, taxi, and private hires at the same tax rate.