Defiance in California after NLRB decision about Uber drivers’ contractor status

Flying in the face of last year’s California Supreme Court ruling on gig-worker classification, a National Labor Relations Board memo on Uber drivers made public this week and a recent Labor Department letter make clear the Trump administration’s position: ride-hailing drivers are contractors, not employees.

Now, experts and others say, it will be up to states to provide worker protections for drivers. In California, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, late last year introduced legislation that tries to codify the state Supreme Court ruling, which simplifies the standard for whether a worker should be considered an employee and is expected to put ride-hailing drivers and other gig workers in that category. Such a shift in classification would upend the business model of Uber, Lyft and other companies that rely on on-demand workers.

“This NLRB decision is just one more instance in President Trump’s growing list of attacks against workers,” Gonzalez said in an emailed statement to this news organization. “It should send a clear message to California policymakers about the lengths Trump is willing to go to decimate labor protections and keep workers in poverty, and how much is at stake” with the passage of the legislation she drafted, AB 5.

In a memo by its general counsel this week that ruled on a couple of specific cases involving Uber drivers, the NLRB said ride-hailing drivers can be “entrepreneurial” because they can boost their pay based on bonuses and incentives that Uber offers.

“Although Uber retained portions of drivers’ fares under a commission-based system that may usually support employee status, that factor is neutral here because Uber’s business model avoids the control of drivers traditionally associated with such systems and affords drivers significant entrepreneurial opportunity,” the NLRB wrote.

Beth Ross, an employment attorney in Oakland, called that “stretching the concept of ‘entrepreneurialism’ …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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