Uber drivers are independent contractors, not driving employees, the attorney general of the Federal Labour Office said in a May 14 notice. It`s another sign that drivers and labor lawyers are standing in front of a steep, if not impossible, hill to force Uber to reclassify its drivers as employees. Uber, which lost $3 billion in 2018, operates on a business model that depends on classifying drivers as independent contractors, freeing the company from the costs of health care, pensions and other employer benefits that would be tied to the employment of millions of drivers. The April 16 notice, written by Jayme Sophir, General Counsel Associate with the National Labor Relations Board, means that it will be much more difficult for drivers to form a union, file labour complaints or seek protection from the federal government. It says that last week, hundreds of Uber drivers went on strike ahead of the company`s highly anticipated IPO. Drivers said they want better working conditions and more transparency from Uber on wages and access to the platform. Uber`s share price has fallen sharply since the IPO, as the company is concerned about the lack of profitability and a wider market crisis. In January 2017, as protesters gathered at airports to oppose President Donald Trump`s travel ban and taxi drivers organized through the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, they declared a strike and passengers ran aground at JFK Airport. According to Hadi Partovi, Uber`s investor and technology entrepreneur, “it`s a company where there wasn`t a line that you wouldn`t cross if it stood in the way of success.”  For more information, see ECJ C-434/15, Asociacion Profesional elite Taxi v. Uber Systems Spain SL, judgment of the Court (large chamber) of 20 December 2017.
The ECJ decided that the purpose of this brokerage service model was to obtain a quid pro quo by connecting drivers who use their own vehicles to passengers who require travel and are therefore inseparable from a transportation service. As a result, the directives governing e-commerce and services in the internal market are not applied, but the common transport policy. Conversely, workers must be employed and non-contracting when a company exercises control over the way it performs its duties or if its work is part of a company`s regular activity. These companies and others say they are technology companies, not travel providers. California hopes to prevent outdoor businesses from passing on their own business costs to taxpayers and workers.