Tag: Gig Economy

Prop 22 Lawsuit Dismissed by California Supreme Court

So, it appears that the Gypsy cab companies attempt to strip rights from their workers will proceed as planned.

This sucks: 

The California Supreme Court today shot down the lawsuit filed by a group of rideshare drivers in California and the Service Employees International Union that alleged Proposition 22 violates the state’s constitution.

“We are disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear our case, but make no mistake: we are not deterred in our fight to win a livable wage and basic rights,” Hector Castellanos, a plaintiff in the case, said in a statement. “We will consider every option available to protect California workers from attempts by companies like Uber and Lyft to subvert our democracy and attack our rights in order to improve their bottom lines.”

As an aside, now is the time to start getting signatures to repeal the bill. 

The “Gig Economy” companies will have 2 years of showing that their so-called worker protections are a lie, so, unlike Prop 13, getting another bite at the apple is a good thing.

Here is Hoping that the Lawsuit Succeeds

The SEIU is suing to overturn Proposition 22, which was intended by Uber and the rest of the “Gig Economy” companies to keep their employees as peons.

Shame on them for pushing that plebiscite, and shame on the voters in California for voting yes: 

A group of rideshare drivers in California and the Service Employees International Union filed a lawsuit today alleging Proposition 22 violates California’s constitution. The goal of the suit is to overturn Prop 22, which classifies gig workers as independent contractors in California.

The suit, filed in California’s Supreme Court, argues Prop 22 makes it harder for the state’s legislature to create and enforce a workers’ compensation system for gig workers. It also argues Prop 22 violates the rule that limits ballot measures to a single issue, as well as unconstitutionally defines what would count as an amendment to the measure. As it stands today, Prop 22 requires a seven-eights legislative supermajority in order to amend the measure.


This suit is the latest in a long battle between gig workers and tech companies. Meanwhile, Uber and Lyft have their eyes on pursuing Prop 22-like legislation elsewhere. Given Uber and Lyft’s anti-gig-workers-as-employees stance, it came as no surprise when Uber and Lyft separately said they would pursue similar legislation in other parts of the country and the world.

The Gypsy cab companies and the rest of them figured that if they spent enough money, they could get the voters to approve their abomination, and that once it passed, they could continue to mistreat their employees.

If this gets overturned, it will be much harder to get a second bite at the apple, because they, and other companies, have taken the law as an opportunity to be evil, and people will not forget this.

Step 1, Buy an Anti Labor Plebescite, Step 2, F%$# Your Workers Like a Drunk Sorority Girl

Fresh on the heels of Proposition 22 passing in California, Grubhub sets it sights on f%$#ing its employees out of tips, because it will reduce their potential responsibilities to those employees:

California-based workers for food delivery app Grubhub have reacted angrily to changes to the platform which they say discourage tipping, saying they would wipe out the supposed benefits of new gig worker rules in the state.

Last month, California passed Proposition 22, which though falling far short of the benefits received by full-time employees, gave gig workers a limited number.

Weeks after the ruling, Grubhub reduced its default tip amount from about 20 percent to zero, adding a suggestion to “leave an optional tip on top of driver benefits.”

Like other apps, Grubhub added an additional “benefit” fee, in its case $1.50, to each order in California—though that money is put into a centralized pot for which only a limited number of drivers are expected to fully qualify.


Under Proposition 22, workers receive a healthcare stipend, provided they clock at least an average of 15 hours per week on one of the gig apps. However, in order to qualify, workers must already be the primary policyholder on an existing healthcare plan.

To get the full stipend, workers must put in at least 25 hours per week. The companies only count “engaged” time, not including periods spent driving without an assigned job — estimated to be about a third of all time spent on the road, according to a University of California, Berkeley, study. No allowances are made for time off or sickness. Data shared by Uber suggested that about three-quarters of its own drivers would not meet this threshold.


But a study by University of California, Santa Cruz, in May determined that “delivery workers are particularly dependent on tips, which account for 30 percent of their estimated earnings.”

“I keep records,” said Jeanine, a Grubhub worker in the San Francisco Bay Area. “And there’s been a complete flip. It’s stunning.”

She shared with the Financial Times a breakdown of her tips on the platform both before and after the change. On two consecutive Saturdays she completed the same number of orders—eight—but on the first Saturday, before the change, 100 percent of her customers left at least a small tip—totalling $61.03.

On the second Saturday, five of her eight customers left no tip, with the rest totalling $24.71.


Uber and DoorDash last week said they would raise prices in order to fund Proposition 22 benefits, though as yet only Grubhub has made changes to its tipping system.

Yes, vote for the bullsh%$ initiative pursued by the gig economy companies, because they have the workers’ interests at heart.

If you believe that, then I have some swamp land in Florida for you.

Initial Claims Up Again

And the 4-week moving average rose for the first time since April.

Not good:

Jobless claims rose for the second straight week, to 778,000, a sign the nationwide surge in virus cases was starting to weigh on the labor-market recovery.

Claims haven’t risen for two consecutive weeks since July. Worker filings for unemployment insurance are down sharply from a peak of nearly seven million in late March. But they remain higher than in any previous recession—the pre-pandemic peak was 695,000 in 1982—for records tracing back to 1967.

Unemployment filings can be more volatile around the holidays, due to workweek changes that can cause seasonal-adjustment anomalies. The four-week moving average, which smooths out weekly variation, increased by 5,000 to 748,500, the Labor Department said Wednesday.


A nationwide surge in Covid-19 cases threatens to weigh on the economic recovery, as many states and localities impose new restrictions on businesses, though less stringent than the ones introduced in the spring, economists say. Further, the spread of the virus, combined with the onset of winter, is likely to send more consumers indoors and hamper spending and employment in industries like restaurants.

And the $600 a week unemployment subsidy has ended, and extended claims and support for unemployed gig economy workers, will be terminated with the new year.

This won’t end well.

I Hope That They Take Uber to the Cleaners

Uber drivers in the EU are suing the Gypsy cab company for firing them via algorithm, which violates the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) because the company fires drivers by algorithm.

The Europeans, and most of the rest of the world, are far less interested in buying the ride-hailing company’s “Because ……… Internet” crap:

Four Uber drivers in the UK and Portugal who claim they were dismissed unfairly by the company’s anti-fraud algorithm have challenged their account deactivations in a European court, citing GDPR protections against automated decision making.

The App Drivers & Couriers Union, a UK-based worker advocacy group, filed a legal complaint on Monday in a district court in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on behalf of the dismissed drivers.

“Uber has been allowed to violate employment law with impunity for years and now we are seeing a glimpse into an Orwellian world of work where workers have no rights and are managed by machine,” said Yaseen Aslam, President of the App Drivers & Couriers Union, in a statement. “If Uber is not checked, this practice will become the norm for everyone.”

Anton Ekker, the attorney representing the four former drivers – three from the UK and one from Portugal – said in a statement that the case represents the first challenge under the GDPR to automated decisions affecting the estimated 3.9m Uber drivers worldwide.

Article 22 of the GDPR states individuals “have the right not to be subject to a decision based solely on automated processing, including profiling, which produces legal effects concerning him or her or similarly significantly affects him or her.”

I really hope that Uber gets nailed to the wall on this.


They have been fighting this for years, and now that they are claiming that they are unprepared.

Seriously, they could outsource this to ADT and the like in a New York minute.

Let them pull the trigger on their threat:

A California appeals court judge blocked an order requiring Uber and Lyft to classify drivers as employees, averting an expected shutdown of the ride-sharing services in California at midnight tonight. The court granted Uber and Lyft a temporary stay while their appeals process play out.

Lyft had already announced it was planning to temporarily cease operations in the state earlier today, and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi had said the same about his company in an interview yesterday.

But the companies won an 11th hour reprieve from the California Court of Appeals hours before the shutdown was expected to go into effect. Uber and Lyft will now have until October to convince the court to throw out the order that it employ its drivers. If they are unsuccessful, the companies will be back where they started, and may again decide to shutdown.

They should be ready now, and there is no reason that they couldn’t be ready in October, but they won’t because they think that too many judges rely on the ride-sharing services, so the threat of a shut-down would be too disruptive to them.

F%$# that.  The drivers should be in contact with Ride Austin about creating a drivers’ cooperative.

Don’t Throw Me in that Briar Patch

I understand that Khosrowshahi is concerned that paying his drivers would adversely impact his stock options, but Uber literally has nothing but its dominance of the app based cab space.

If they shut down for a week, they will lose market share in California that they will NEVER get back.  They have no unique technology, no copyright or patent exclusivity, and very little in the way of good will from their customers or their drivers.

As an aside, now is the time for a couple of coder dudes to set up a app based driver cooperative:

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is warning that a landmark California ruling on the employment status of its drivers could force the company to shut down its service in California until November.

“We think we comply by the laws,” Khosrowshahi said on MSNBC. “But if the judge and the court finds that we’re not, and they don’t give us a stay to get to November, then we’ll have to essentially shut down Uber until November when the voters decide.”


After the law passed last year, Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash spent more than $100 million gathering signatures for a voter initiative that would overturn the law. It is slated to appear on the ballot in November. 

Do you want some cheese for that whine?

Your Move, Bitches

I am the CEO of Foxes. Hens deserve better. pic.twitter.com/AGVeYRNRGt

— Marshall Steinbaum 🔥 (@Econ_Marshall) August 10, 2020

The Management is Simply Contemptible Human Beings.

Read the whole thread, or check it out on the Threadreader App

A California judge has just issued an injunction preventing Uber and Lyft forbidding the Gypsy cab companies from treating their drivers as independent contractors:

A California judge has issued a preliminary injunction that would block Uber and Lyft from classifying their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.

The move on Monday came in response to a May lawsuit filed by the state of California against the companies, which alleged they are misclassifying their drivers under the state’s new labor law.

That law, known as AB5, took effect on 1 January. The strictest of its kind in the US, it makes it more difficult for companies to classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees who are entitled to minimum wage and benefits. The lack of workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits for drivers has become increasingly urgent during the coronavirus pandemic, as ridership plunges and workers struggle to protect themselves.

California is the largest market in the US for Uber and Lyft and the state where both companies were founded.

The lawsuit, and Monday’s injunction, are the most significant challenges to the ride-hailing companies’ business model thus far. Judge Ethan Schulman of the San Francisco superior court delayed enforcing his order by 10 days to give the companies a chance to appeal.

Uber, and to a slightly smaller degree Lyft, have shifted their cost onto the rest of us by not paying workers’ comp, not paying unemployment insurance, not paying their portion of FICA, not vetting their drivers properly, increasing congestion, etc.

They need to pay their fair share, and allowing them to ignore the law, “Because ……… Internet,” means that the rest of us are subsidizing their businesses.

Drip, Drip, Drip

This means that the Gypsy cab companies may have to start paying for yet another societal cost that they foist on the rest of us.

The order is directed at the New York unemployment office, but it appears that it will likely force these companies to report earnings, and (eventually) pay the unemployment insurance premiums that they have been evading:

A federal judge has ordered the state of New York to quickly pay unemployment benefits to four Uber and Lyft drivers who have been waiting for the payments since March or April. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which filed a lawsuit over the issue back in May, says that the ruling could ultimately help thousands of drivers in similar situations.

Uber and Lyft have long argued that its drivers are independent contractors, not employees. That stance has come under increasing pressure. Since 2016, the New York Department of Labor has held that ride-hail drivers were employees for purposes of unemployment insurance. But Uber and Lyft have dragged their feet, failing to provide wage data that would enable the agency to calculate unemployment payments for each worker.

As a result, when Uber and Lyft drivers forced out of work by the pandemic applied for unemployment benefits, some were told that they weren’t eligible because state data showed them with zero earnings. Workers continued to be denied benefits even after they submitted 1099 tax forms showing their earnings.


In her Tuesday ruling, Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall sided squarely with the drivers. She acknowledged that Uber and Lyft bore some of the blame for failing to supply the state with necessary data. But she said the state still had an obligation to pay benefits promptly—using data supplied by workers themselves if necessary.

Assuming that Andrew “Rat Faced Andy” Cuomo is not in the gig companies’ pockets, (a big if) collecting wage data, along with pursuing payment of premiums, should occur as a matter of basic bureaucratic imperative.

Instacart Treats Its Employees Like Sh%$, and Now Its Customers Will Die

Some Instacart employees went on strike because the the grocery delivery company was not protecting its employees from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now we know that they have endangered their customers as well:

Late last night (Monday, March 30), an In-Store Shopper in the Cambridge, MA area shared with us an email they received from Instacart corporate —probably the last email anyone would want to see at this point in time:

Instacart’s email sent to an In-Store Shopper, as provided to Gig Workers Collective

As Instacart spent Monday discrediting our workers’ strike, downplaying the requests we and thousands of other Shoppers and customers were making, they were also busy informing their workers that they may have been working alongside a confirmed case of COVID-19 at a store in Cambridge.

This is the exact worst-case scenario we wrote about when giving our reasons for a strike. In-Store and Full-Service Shoppers work in close quarters with each other and with other people in stores. The virus is confirmed to be present in at least one of these workplaces now. These Shoppers handle produce, groceries and supplies that are then delivered to Instacart customers. Often many hundreds of customers per day. Without adequate measures, Instacart Full-Service Shoppers and In-Store Shoppers can unknowingly become vectors for the disease and multiply the danger for everyone involved.

(emphasis original)

Once again, I will remind you that if an employers treats its own employees like sh^%, they will treat their customers like sh%$.

Today in Crappy Bosses

First, we have Charter Communications, who are sending their techs into people’s homes with no protective gear.

No gloves, no masks, no hand sanitizer, and no hazard pay, but they are giving their installer $25.00 restaurant gift cards, which sounds good until you realize that the restaurants are mostly closed:

Spectrum technicians connecting cable and internet for customers during the coronavirus outbreak will receive a $25 gift card for a local restaurant as a “token of our appreciation” from management, after staff called for hazard pay and protective equipment.

Spectrum employees have been speaking out against the company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic for several days now, begging to be allowed to work from home if their jobs allow it and calling for safety measures to be implemented for those in the field.

Field technicians told BuzzFeed News on Monday night they feared going into people’s homes during the pandemic to fix their internet and cable without gloves, a mask, or hand sanitizer in case they got sick or carried the virus to other customers or loved ones.


“It’s quite literally the least they could do,” the North Carolina tech said, pointing out that to even use a gift card from a local restaurant would likely involve having close contact with restaurant staff or drivers.

[Executive vice president of field operations Tom] Adams also noted Spectrum had secured access to hand sanitizer and gloves, which would be available for workers to use “in the next few weeks.”

(emphasis mine)
That’s very white of you, Tom.

And then there is Instacart, which has also refused gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, and hazard pay, or at least it did, until its employees threatened a massive walkout.

Surprise, it was too little, too late:

“They are putting us directly in harm’s way while profiting greatly. We cannot let this be considered normal.”

The “Instacart Shoppers and Gig Workers Collective,” representing some 175,000 laborers for Instacart, plan to strike on Monday, March 30.

Organizers of the labor protest say the grocery delivery giant is denying gig workers (“shoppers”) basic coronavirus pandemic protections such as gloves, soap, hand sanitizer, and pay for those with pre-existing health issues that place them at high risk for COVID-19.

Read their demands at medium.com/@GigWorkersCollective. Here’s an excerpt:

On Monday, March 30, Shoppers will walk off of our jobs, and will not return to work until our demands are met. We demand that Instacart meet the following conditions:

  • Safety precautions at no cost to workers — PPE (at minimum hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes/sprays and soap).
  • Hazard pay — an extra $5 per order and defaulting the in-app tip amount to at least 10% of the order total.
  • An extension and expansion of pay for workers impacted by COVID-19 — anyone who has a doctor’s note for either a preexisting condition that’s a known risk factor or requiring a self-quarantine.
  • The deadline to qualify for these benefits must be extended beyond April 8th.

I really do hope that some increased worker protections will come out of the pandemic, but I figure that this is about as likely as a mass shooting resulting in gun control measures.

She is Off My “They Who Must Not Be Named” List?

I have a list of people that I refuse to cover, They Who Must Not Be Named.  Basically, these are folks who occupy a significant role in popular culture, but I consider too trivial for me to write about. (Tabloid fodder)

I have applied this to actors, singers, the entire royal family, and celebrities for no reason at all, such as the the reality show family whose last name resembles an adversary race in later series in the Star Trek franchise.

My standard statement on this is:

Absent some sort of political activity, such as endorsements, running for office (PLEASE GOD NO!!), or their attempting to assassinate someone, they will not be mentioned here.

Well, the first person is coming off the list and it is Britney Spears, of all people, because she is calling for a general strike and a massive reorganization of society, which I think qualifies her for removal from the list.

Also, she is sounding Trotskyite, which means that referencing her will piss off my brother, Stephen, aka Bear who swims:

Britney Spears has called for us to strike.

On Instagram, Spears shared a graphic that included the words, “We will feed each other, redistribute wealth, strike.” Her comment on the graphic “Communion goes beyond walls 🌹🌹🌹” included three roses, the symbol associated with socialist movements in the United States, United Kingdom, and beyond. That, dear reader, is the main thing we needed to tell you.

A post shared by Britney Spears (@britneyspears) on

Spears is a surprising but very welcome ally in the struggle to ensure that our response to the global coronavirus pandemic is a just one. But her meming also points to the fact that this is a very rare and unusual time: a period in which draconian, repressive government measures could be introduced, but there is also an opening for people to demand a better society. Across the globe, quarantined people are increasingly reliant on low-paid workers. Governments are swiftly discovering that the actual backbone of society is the lowest paid and, in the case of the gig economy, those with few rights.

Schadenfreude Much?

The food delivery firm DoorDash requires its employees to sign an arbitration agreement, which among other things, prevents class action suits, largely so that it can pretend that they are independent contractors.

A lawyer has taken about 5,000 of of these employees as clients, and filed about 5,000 arbitration claims, which will cost DoorDash about $12,000,000 in arbitration costs.

So, DoorDash attempted to get a judge to move this to a class action suit to save money, and Federal Judge William Alsup called bullsh%$ on this:

Rejecting claims that the legal process it forced on workers is unfair, a federal judge Monday ordered food-delivery service DoorDash to pay $9.5 million in arbitration fees for 5,010 delivery drivers’ labor demands against the company.

“You’re going to pay that money,” U.S. District Judge William Alsup said in court. “You don’t want to pay millions of dollars, but that’s what you bargained to do and you’re going to do it.”

Barred from filing labor suits in court under the terms of a required arbitration contract, 6,250 DoorDash drivers brought their claims to an arbitrator. Last fall, the American Arbitration Association found each worker met the minimum requirements for filing a claim and ordered DoorDash to pay $12 million in fees. The workers paid $1.2 million in filing fees, or $300 per case.

DoorDash refused to pay its share of fees, arguing the workers failed to specify how much money they were seeking or prove they had a valid arbitration deal with the company.

In response, the delivery drivers filed two motions to compel arbitration, which landed in Alsup’s court. DoorDash told Alsup the company shouldn’t have to pay those fees because the petitioners’ law firm, Chicago-based Keller Lenkner, failed to properly vet its clients’ claims or prove it had an attorney-client relationship with each worker.


Despite those problems, Alsup said he would not deny relief to the majority of petitioners on that basis.

“Out of those 6,000 there probably are a few people where you pulled the wool over my eyes, but I think the vast majority of these are legit,” the judge said. “I’m not going to hold up that relief just because there are going to be a few glitches.”


In total, Keller Lenkner sought to compel arbitration for 5,879 workers. Alsup said he would grant the motion for 5,010 workers who submitted valid declarations affirming that they worked for DoorDash and signed a valid arbitration contract with the company. At $1,900 per case, DoorDash must pay $9.5 million.

In May 2019, the company was valued at $12.6 billion.

Attorney Warren Postman, of Keller Lenkner, described Alsup’s decision as a major victory for gig economy workers misclassified as independent contractors and fighting for minimum wage.

“They’ve been shut out of every forum for months, and in some cases years,” Postman said. “I’m glad our clients will have their day to have their claims heard.”

Late last year, Alsup allowed the petitioners to investigate claims that DoorDash worked with a new arbitrator to concoct rules that would benefit DoorDash while disadvantaging workers.

DoorDash introduced new arbitration terms on Nov. 9, which workers must agree to before they can log onto the DoorDash app to work and get paid. The new terms require workers arbitrate disputes through the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR). Under the CPR rules, only 10 arbitration cases can proceed at once when more than 30 cases are filed. The rules also mandate 90-day mediation sessions and other conditions, which the petitioners say could delay their cases for years.

DoorDash and CPR both maintain the new rules were created in response to mass arbitration demands, but they say multiple stakeholders were involved in the development of a “fair and neutral process” that expedites a small number of “test” or bellwether cases followed by a mediation process that encourages resolution of all claims.

On Monday, Alsup said he would deny motions to seal communications between DoorDash’s law firm, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, and CPR, adding he will give DoorDash 14 days to appeal his decision.

“There’s a public interest in the world at large knowing that someone like CPR that holds itself out to be an impartial agency is actually being guided by the employer side,” Alsup said.

So, it is highly likely that the plaintiffs will get access to communications between DoorDash and the arbitration firm, and this will almost certainly reveal that the arbitration firm is working for DoorDash, and not a neutral actor, which would open up both to damages under things like RICO which mandate large punitive damages.

Hopefully, this tactic will spread to the other “Gig Economy” fraudsters.

If This Is the Future, It’s a Dystopia

People are finally noticing that Silicon Valley’s vision of the future is a nightmare:

Vanessa Bain was less than a year into her gig as an Instacart shopper when the company announced it would no longer allow tipping on its app. Instacart instead began imposing a 10 percent “service fee” that replaced the previous default tip of 10 percent. The change had no impact on customers, who could be forgiven for assuming that the new fee would still go to the workers who shopped for their groceries and delivered them to their homes. “It was deceptive to customers,” Bain said. “They thought they were still tipping us, when instead it went to the company. It wasn’t being passed to us at all.”

When Bain, who lives in Palo Alto, California, became a shopper in 2016, she believed that gig work would provide her with both financial stability and schedule flexibility to take care of her young daughter. However, as independent contractors, Bain and her husband, a fellow shopper, don’t receive sick leave or holidays. And in practice, the “be your own boss” promise of the gig economy instantly vanishes the moment you take on a gig job: It is, instead, a system that relentlessly dictates your schedule. “We are controlled. We are treated like employees but without the perks,” Jennifer Cotten, a Los Angeles area–based shopper, told me. “We’re told what order to deliver in and when to go.”

The indignities of the gig economy are well established at this point, as the laissez-faire labor practices of companies like Uber, Instacart, Door Dash, and Lyft draw more critical scrutiny. Bain, Cotton, and their fellow shoppers are among the millions of precariously employed workers who rely on part-time jobs or side gigs to scrape together a living, all without the safety net of employer-based insurance.

But what is less widely acknowledged is how the gig economy interacts with other trends in California and forces unleashed by Silicon Valley—rising housing costs, choked infrastructure—to make life hell for those who live at or near the epicenter of America’s technology industry. Together, they constitute a nightmare vision of what the world would look like if it were run by our digital overlords, as they sit atop a growing underclass that does their shopping and drives their cars—all while barely able to make ends meet.

It’s not just Instacart, Door Dash, Uber and Lyft.  It’s the dockless scooter companies making cities unwalkable, it’s Amazon’s conscious sales of dangerous fakes and abuse of its employees, Facebook’s continuous lying about privacy, Twitter’s sh%$ show, PayPal’s abuse of its customers, etc.

Who knew that view of the future in William Gibson’s stories would be so wildly optimistic as compared to the reality that we face?

Uber Continues to Evade Regulations

In yet another attempt to evade regulations requiring that it treat its employees as ……… well ……… employees, it is introducing a feature allowing divers to bid on rides.

Obviously, Uber thinks that this has two advantages:

  • It makes it easier for them to argue that the their employees are not employees.
  • It will structured to encourage a race to the bottom.

I don’t think that this will work for 2 reasons:

Also, it’s pretty clear that even though Travis Kalanick has left the company, the company has still not left Travic Kalanick:

Uber Technologies Inc. is testing a new feature that allows some drivers in California to set their fares, the latest in a series of moves to give them more autonomy in response to the state’s new gig-economy law.

Starting Tuesday morning, drivers who ferry passengers from airports in Santa Barbara, Palm Springs and Sacramento can charge up to five times the fare Uber sets on a ride, according to a person involved in developing the feature. Uber confirmed in an emailed statement that it is doing an “initial test” that “would give drivers more control over the rates they charge riders.”


The fare test and other recent changes are part of Uber’s effort to strengthen its case that its drivers operate with some degree of independence. Earlier this month, Uber capped its commissions on rides across California. Last month, it allowed drivers in the state to see where riders were going, letting them choose the trips they wanted to take. Previously, drivers agreed to trips without knowing the destination.

Uber’s latest changes will set up a bidding system that lets drivers increase fares in 10% increments, up to a maximum of five times Uber’s set price, the person involved in developing the feature said. That price includes base fare, time spent and distance covered by a driver. There is no limit on how often drivers can raise prices. Once a rider pings the Uber app at the locations in the pilot program, Uber will match the rider with the driver who has set the lowest price, the person said. Drivers who have set higher fares are gradually dispatched as more riders request rides.


Starting next week, Uber plans to let drivers also set fares lower than Uber’s price. In addition to choosing a higher multiple, drivers will be able to charge as little as one-tenth Uber’s set price, decreasing fares 10% at a time. They will also be allowed to opt out of surge pricing.

“Drivers want to make more money, but now they’re competing with another driver for that money, so it’s a lot more work and a lot more confusing,” said Harry Campbell, a former Uber and Lyft driver who runs the Rideshare Guy blog for drivers, which he says has about 80,000 subscribers. “What happens if drivers start setting fares lower and lower just so they can get rides?”

Given that the basic technology of Uber and Lyft is unencumbered by patents, I’m kind of surprised that someone has not set up a workers’ cooperative to compete with both of the firms.

You can pay the drivers a lot more if you are not paying off a bunch a venture capitalist pukes.