Photo via Teamsters.
Photo via Teamsters.

Uber and UberX drivers angry with how they’ve been treated formed a new association on Sunday.

With the help of Teamsters Local 117, an organization that represents taxi drivers and helps unions across the Puget Sound region, the drivers approved by-laws and elected a leadership council for the “App-Based Drivers’ Association.”

“Job security, wage gouging, public safety, and a refusal of transportation network companies, such as Uber, Sidecar, and Lyft, to adhere to local laws and industry standards compelled the drivers to organize,” Teamsters noted.

The members, who will pay $25 per month for the association, have complained about how they’ve been treated by Uber— specifically with the way Uber removes drivers from its system — in addition to a concern over sufficient liability coverage to protect drivers and riders.

uberx“Today is a historic day for all app-based drivers in King County,” Daniel Ajema, an Uber driver and organizer of the association, said in a statement. “We set a framework for the future and for the workers who follow us.  From now on, our dignity will be protected in the workplace.”

At a meeting last month that sparked the formation of the new association, former Uber driver Yedidta Seifu told KING5 that Uber “treats us a little better than slaves.” On the same day, William Anderson, another former Uber driver, noted that once his rating went from a perfect 5 stars to 4.6, Uber shut down his phone without warning.

However, Uber Seattle GM Brooke Steger told GeekWire today that Seifu refused to take a background check. Anderson, meanwhile, failed his background check.

“We want to protect the partner drivers that provide quality service and have a clean background,” Steger said. “They’ll end up with more business in the end.”

Steger added that Uber is “always open to constructive feedback and to solve any problems partners may be facing.”

“We try our best to provide weekly feedback to all drivers, as well as provide constructive feedback to drivers who continuously do not meet the needs of riders,” Steger said. “We never remove a driver for a single incident unless there are safety concerns.”

Here’s an official statement from Uber, which calls out Teamsters for “protecting taxi license owners”:

Uber is a technology platform and we partner with thousands of small businesses in the Seattle area. Owners of these small businesses are free to exercise their rights under federal and local law, meet with each other and to provide Uber with feedback about their partnership. In fact, we encourage this feedback; we hold weekly coffees that all partners are invited to, offer support via email and text message 7 days a week, have open office hours throughout the week, and also have an anonymous feedback form.

A partner that is a safe driver, with a consistently clean criminal and driving record, who provides good customer service and keeps their small business in order is at no risk of Uber’s partnership ending. Safety and service are Uber’s top priorities.

While Uber’s top priority is safety, the Teamsters Local 117’s top priority is recruiting membership and protecting taxi license owners. Uber partners on average makeover $15/hour, more than the average taxi driver, and partners are not confined to high lease fees or restrictive schedules.

Uber is proud that just 4 years ago we created a platform that has fundamentally changed the way people get a ride and enabled drivers across the world to build their own small business in a way never before possible.

Drivers from Uber, Lyft and Sidecar are welcome to join the new association, which will have a similar model to that of the Western Washington Taxi Cab Operators Association (WWTCOA) — a group that is also supported by Teamsters and sued Uber back in March for “unlawful and deceptive business practice.”

Meanwhile in Seattle, Mayor Ed Murray may issue a cease-and-desist letter to UberX, Lyft and Sidecar if an agreement cannot be reached by June 2 between representatives from the San Francisco-based startups, taxi companies and City officials to create a set of laws for the new startups, which are currently operating with no regulation in Seattle.

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  • SamuelRoby

    Ride-sharing is a fraudulent and tax-evading business model. Little wonder
    that the owners of such operations decided to incorporate themselves offshore.
    UberX is no different.
    Being a taxi operation, yet actively denying so, the law-breakers are creating
    unfair immoral competition to thousands of small local transportation companies
    that are operating legally. Ride-sharers don’t have even a tenth(!) of the expenses
    that small transportation businesses are having daily for operating legally. Most of
    these law-breaking ride-sharing operators don’t even have a business permit to operate. It makes no sense.

    • KeJorn

      Please explain why you feel Uber drivers would need a business permit to operate anywhere??? Go to SBA’s website and look up business permits and please tell me what business type they fit? I do not even see taxi drivers listed. You can own a sole proprietorship without a permit. It simply depends on what you are doing/selling, etc. As for tax-evading.. HOW??? Every driver gets a 1099 and has to report his income to the IRS. That is not tax evasion. You keep using the word law-breaker as if by driving for Uber they are creating a crime. By all means, please prove how, especially when even the Mayor of several large cities (like Boston) are actually in support of the new technology and simple ask their police commissioners to ensure adequate safety policies are in place. You sound like someone who is bitter but not well informed.

  • Guest

    Yawn. TNCs represent the future of transportation: lower cost, lower overhead, lower regulation, better service. Why do drivers believe they will benefit by shackling themselves to unions, the ancient history of labour?

    Let the Teamers extract their $300 per annum from Uberites. I won’t.

    • ClaimsAdjuster

      The TNC drivers have a better idea than an ass kissing Uber troll like you about how their companies treat them.

      • Guest

        The TNC drivers are only “speaking” through the Teamers, a union who wants their $. Fuck off. You know as little about organized labour as you do about the law.

        • ClaimsAdjuster

          Typical right wing drivel.

  • ClaimsAdjuster

    “However, Uber Seattle GM Brooke Steger told GeekWire today that Seifu refused to take a background check. Anderson, meanwhile, failed his background check.”

    Three possibilities here:

    1)Steger is admitting here that Uber hires drivers without doing a background check first.
    2) They allow applicants with a criminal history to work for them but then pull it out when the driver complains about being exploited.
    3) Steger just made up the stuff about the background checks.

    I am going with #3.

    • haaggus

      ClaimsAdjuster? Let me guess you are in the insurance industry. You hate Uber? Not surprising, since they are bypassing the insurance stooges like yourself.

      • ClaimsAdjuster

        Translation: “Bypassing insurance stooges” = insurance fraud

  • who cares

    What is the association going to do exactly? Get the 250 Uber Black and SUV drivers to strike? Are they going to stop driving for Uber? Then what? Starve? Uber doesn’t care about those guys they have UberX and UberXL. These drivers need Uber more than Uber needs them. Who cares that they have an association, it’s going to amount to nothing but a therapy session to get together and complain about how this company took advantage of them and they were too blind to see it from the beginning.

    • haaggus

      Taxi commissions are much more exploitative than a free-market company like Uber ever could be. Taxis have a state-backed monopoly and charge exorbitant fees, plus it’s very hard to fire a bad driver. Uber maintains full control over its workforce and keeps their customers happy with a good product. If Uber was bad, people wouldn’t use it. But it’s fantastic. Get with the times.

      • balls187

        “If Uber was bad, people wouldn’t use it.”

        This logic doesn’t follow.

      • ClaimsAdjuster

        “Taxi commissions are much more exploitative than a free-market company like Uber ever could be.”

        ??? 1) Seattle does not have a taxi commission 2) Taxi commissions do not employ drivers – how could they exploit them?

        “…plus it’s very hard to fire a bad driver”

        No , it is not. A cab owner or a taxi company can get rid of drivers with no muss or fuss.

  • Guest

    Why is it ok for Uber to disclose results of background checks on their employees? I don’t know if it’s legal, but it’s certainly not ethical. Shame on them!

    The only real question here is how long it takes these unethical taxi companies to be run out of businesses, replaced by legal and ethical app companies which provide apps to legal and ethical taxi companies. When your business model revolves around tax fraud, it’s hard to stay in business.

    • haaggus

      Tax fraud? Those are serious allegations you are making. Care to share your evidence?

    • ClaimsAdjuster

      Actually the big money for UberX and Lyft is in insurance fraud. But the drivers are running under the table businesses that are unlicensed and pay no taxes.

      • KeJorn

        How is it insurance fraud? Every driver must carry adequate insurance for their vehicle. As for taxes, they receive a 1099 and must report their earnings to the IRS. So how do you figure they pay no taxes?? Again it sounds like more bitter people who don’t have all the facts.

        • ClaimsAdjuster

          UberX drivers only carry private insurance policies that exclude coverage for a for livery service. How is that adequate coverage?

          TNC drivers do not have city or state business licenses. They are paying no state or local taxes.

    • ClaimsAdjuster

      There is no reason to take UberX, Lyft or any of the other illegal businesses. In Seattle, the Flywheel app has the same rates as the illegals but dispatches only to licensed and insured for-hire vehicles.

  • haaggus

    Uber is an amazing company. They will be first to offer rides in self-driving cars. Imagine no more taxi drivers, period. What will the taxi commission do then? My guess is they will cry more, like true Luddites.

  • Larry Best

    Come check out the uber drivers forum. We are discussing the all the issues of the rideshare business.

    • Jose mendivil

      The people on this forum are as dusgusted as uber; as soon as you write a real story. About uber as soon they banned you
      They dont like to read real issues

  • Mark MacKay

    Let’s expand this union conversation. I’m sure there are contract workers out there beginning to understand the importance of a fair workplace.

  • Jose mendivil

    We the people
    What the Uberyans dont understand is that we as sociaty have laws, rules, regulations and ordenances and nobody is so special to ignore the law
    Since the authorities are ignoring uber activitie, we as citizens should start doing citizens arrest to all of this disgusted criminals, also what we can do is take the car plates and report to the insurance companies that this cars are used for commertial porpuses without the appropiate coverage
    They believe that they are reinventing the wheel or doing something out of this world
    The procedures, the technics, the logistic, the books are well known since decades ago by any cab driver, even the somalies with 2 months arrived can figurate all that stuff
    The only new that this idiots are doing is depresiating the cab industry by a 60% or more, and just for the record; let me inform you that due to your stupidity
    The american people is loosing the culture to tip for services in this country. Im just waiting the day to go to a restaurant and the waitress tell me: “it is ok sir, you dont need to tip me, the tip is already include in your bill” and she pretending to be somebody very wealthy doing that just for fun loopoool
    I dont know if this is good for the economy of our nation , when the cost of living is strathosferic
    But dear Uberyans you can keep living believing that you are a genius leaving this great legacy to this industry
    Also when this apps send you to pick up someone that someone can cancel the service in the middle of you way simply becouse they can open your profile and see you picture and if the passenger don’t like how you look they can calcel you right away, so if you are hispanic or black you got to be prepared to be canceled many times or if you got high expectatives in this activitie you better have to be a handsome or very attractive person
    Another disturbing thing is that as driver or passenger you are practically forced to rate wach other from one to five stars; i still don’t understand the critería to rate someone as driver if my mission is to take the passenger to his destination with safe regardless his behavior, attitude, apparence, race, sexual prefferences relition…..ect
    The drivers of this apps can park, pick up and drop people any where even in the airport deriverately and nobody said nothing to them; as taxi you have to pay more than 100dlls daily to be allowed to pick up fares in the Airport; if they catch you picking people without authorization in the airport you are fined with 800dlls
    Indeed I never see so many impunity and abuses in a illegal activity
    And the authorities apparently doesn’t care about this illigal activitie
    Is uber brabing the transportation authorities? I really dont know is an issue to think about it
    In the case of taxis you have to have many requirements in order to operate this business, not to mention the value of the commertial insurance you have to
    pay and knoe the passenger are demanding very low fares becouse they know that uber or lift can take them almost for free
    In conclution if nobody do nothing to stop such unfair and illegal competition the cab industry could dissapear

    • person of interest

      for those of you who do not understand in some or most states you want to taxi drive you get finger printed by the police and FBI to see if you have any felony convictions, if yes you cant do this job the same thing truck drivers railroad ,airline and so on,.it is called work for hire ,you must comply to the law!

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