Uber has been called a disruptive technology that has wreaked havoc with the taxi industry worldwide. Here is where things get interesting – Now the Teamsters want in and organized labour wants to be disruptive by gaining greater rights and workplace benefits for Uber Drivers.
According to the CBC as reported on March 23, 2016:
“Drivers for the ride-hailing service Uber have been given the right to unionize by Seattle city council, the only jurisdiction in North America to do so.” (By Chris Brown, Chris Corday, CBC News March 23, 2016).
There is one fundamental principal at the heart of this issue; that is the legal debate about the definition of independent contractors versus the definition of employees.
Every jurisdiction in North America has their own definitions, but they all have the similar theme that to be an independent contractor you must have some or all of the following:
- Control over the work
- Control over amount and method of payment
- Control over tools and equipment required
- Control over financial risk and capital costs
As stated in the video, sometimes Uber Drivers act like independent contractors and other times they act like employees. Who is correct? This issue becomes even more complex if they are considered employees and not independent contractors because minimum employee standards legislation would then apply to the employees.
- Every province has slightly different definitions of employee versus independent contractor laws. Review your jurisdictions’ rules and discuss if Uber Drivers would be allowed to unionize or not?
- If unions achieve the right to unionize contingency workers such as Uber Drivers what impact could it have on using a smartphone application to hire individuals?