Can Uber/Lyft Drivers Join Unions? (Explained!)

Many workers like knowing that their rights are protected and that someone is fighting for fair working conditions. When you drive for companies like Uber and Lyft, it is sometimes unclear to drivers exactly who they are working for. Are they even considered employees?

Can Uber and Lyft drivers join a union?

Uber and Lyft drivers are not considered employees. There has been much debate surrounding this, but a recent statement from the National Labor Relations Board labeled drivers as independent contractors. As such, they do not have the right to form labor unions.

Independent contractors are like freelancers who dedicate their off-time or their full-time to a job or project – however, they are not considered employees — because of this, unionizing is not within their rights when they work for that company.

For more information, we’ve compiled a lot of research for you below!

Have Rideshare Drivers Had any Success on this Matter?

Unfortunately, those who work for rideshare platforms like Uber and Lyft are not considered to be employees. According to statements made earlier this year by the general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board, drivers are considered independent contractors for these companies.

As a result of their independent contractor status, drivers do not have the right to form labor unions.

However, some rideshare drivers have banded together in recent months to take the industry head-on and tackle some of the major challenges facing drivers.

Rideshare Drivers United is perhaps the most well-known advocacy group in public today. This California-based group has already organized three major strikes to protest the way that drivers are treated.

They are advocating for better working conditions, including a set minimum wage, paid transportation while en route to a passenger, and more transparency regarding the total estimated fare before accepting a ride.

So far, they have drafted a Rideshare Drivers Bill of Rights that they are hoping to make into law.

We also have an article here with Do Uber/Lyft Drivers Choose When & Where to Work?

What Have “Rideshare Drivers United” Accomplished?

Rideshare Drivers United has been a prominent force in the rideshare industry. They are a community of rideshare drivers who work with Uber and Lyft and are fighting for a better working standard in the industry. So far, they have planned and executed three major strikes and are working to pass a bill that would ensure better working conditions for drivers.

They have drafted the Rideshare Drivers Bill of Rights that they hope to make into law in the state of California.

This bill consists of all the major issues that their members said were most important to them via the monthly surveys that the organization sends out.

One of the major issues that the company is fighting for includes fair pay. Drivers have stated that they want a ten percent cap on commission for Uber and Lyft based on what the passenger pays.

They are also requesting payment for the route to the passenger, a minimum wage matching New York City’s $27.86 per hour, and a gas-price indexed surcharge included in the fare.

Other key issues include:

  • An independent deactivation appeals process
  • Transparency for the estimated fare and trip destination before acceptance of the ride
  • Complete fare breakdown on Uber and Lyft’s take on the passenger receipt
  • An elected driver-representative added to the board of directors for both companies
  • Rideshare vehicle cap to cut down on traffic and carbon emissions
  • Emission standards for all new vehicles added to the platform

Is Driving for Uber/Lyft Considered Employment?

While you may be able to work full-time hours for Uber and Lyft, many are left wondering whether it is really considered employment. General Counsel Peter Robb, a member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), decided on this very question back in May of 2019.

It was determined that rideshare drivers are classified as independent contractors instead of employees.

The reason for this decision has a few logical factors. Drivers are free to create their own schedules, and they own their vehicles. They have the freedom to work for a company’s competitors, which many drivers take advantage of.

It is not uncommon to see a driver working simultaneously for both Uber and Lyft.

There is a lot of debate over whether Uber and Lyft drivers should be considered employees. According to the debate surrounding a recent assembly bill in California, drivers are not classified as employees because they perform work outside of the company’s main focus. Companies argue that the primary work Uber and Lyft offer is to connect drivers with riders; therefore, the actual driving portion is outside of this scope.

In recent years, there has been much in the way of debates regarding whether rideshare drivers should be classified as employees.

Currently, they are still considered independent contractors, but this could change in the coming months or years.

You may also like to read our article which explains about How much do Uber/Lyft Drivers Make in Atlanta?

What is the Outcome of the Uber Meeting with AB 5 in California?

AB5 (Assembly Bill 5) was passed in the California State Assembly and will now proceed to the governor’s desk for final approval. Governor Gavin Newsom is in support of the bill, and it should go into effect in January 2020. However, many are still worried about how it will affect rideshare drivers.

The premise of AB5 is that all gig economy workers would be reclassified as employees instead of independent contractors. Unfortunately, it may not apply to Uber and Lyft drivers.

One of the main points of AB5 is that a company may still consider workers to be independent contractors if they are doing work outside of the company’s usual course of business. Uber argues that its usual course of business is to provide the technological framework to connect drivers with passengers.

As stated above, driving itself is outside of this scope of work and, as a result, would not require Uber to consider drivers to be employees.

If Uber and Lyft were to consider drivers to be employees, it might mean major changes to how their program works:

  • They may have to institute shifts that make it more difficult for drivers to work only when it is convenient for them.
  • Drivers might also be limited to working for just one rideshare company at a time, whereas many current drivers are active on both Uber and Lyft simultaneously.

Instead, Uber and Lyft are attempting to fight the bill by proposing a ballot initiative that would make them exempt. In its place, they are proposing a $21 per hour minimum wage for  California drivers.

Do Uber/Lyft Drivers Make the Same Wage Across U.S. Cities?

A major problem that plagues the rideshare industry is the inequality of wages across the country. Many people may assume that all drivers make the same amount. Several years ago, Uber even released a statement that their drivers rake in more than $90,000 annually.

However, the rate you earn can vary wildly based on where you live.

For more information on different wages for Uber/Lyft Drivers, check out our other article: How Much do Uber/Lyft Drivers Make in Las Vegas?

It is no surprise that major cities give drivers the most bang for their buck.

You earn more in a major city, but it likely balances out with higher costs of living, higher gas prices, and higher prices on car maintenance.

Based on recent surveys, the cities where drivers earn the most include San Francisco, New York City, San Jose, Seattle, and Los Angeles. The average monthly revenue for drivers in these areas ranges from roughly $900 to $1,500.

Here are few facts on our article that you should know about Rideshare & Surge Pricing

Does it Generally Pay Better to Drive Uber or Lyft?

Figuring out which company will pay you better can be a relatively tricky endeavor.

Both Uber and Lyft have their benefits for drivers and passengers, and pricing can be a bit murky.

It can help to look at the overall fee structure for Uber and Lyft to see how much you can expect to make with one or both platforms:

Fees and Income Charges to the App

First, both companies will take a portion of your income as a commission for helping to connect you with a rider. Uber takes a whopping 25%, but Lyft isn’t far behind at 20%.

Passengers will also pay a booking fee for scheduling a ride with both platforms. This fee is paid in addition to the commission, but drivers do not see a portion of this money either. Uber charges between $1.85 and $2.45 while Lyft charges anywhere from $1 to $2 based on your city.

Tipping and Extra Income

Both platforms allow riders to tip their drivers, and drivers receive the full value of any tips they earn.

However, riders are more apt to tip generously with Lyft because Uber discouraged tipping for so many years. This can be a stable source of income for drivers who keep a clean car and go above and beyond for riders.

Bonuses and Discounts

Both companies offer different bonuses for drivers.

For example, Lyft offers a bonus based on how much fuel you purchase. They also offer a variety of rewards based on your ranking with prizes like discounts on cell phone plans, fuel rewards points, and free roadside assistance.

Uber also offers bonuses to their drivers. They offer better pricing in “boosted” areas, bonuses for completing a set number of rides during a period, and bonuses for referring new drivers.

Overall Income for Both?

It is hard to determine, based on this research alone, which app is going to make an individual driver more money.

Some people say that Uber is the more popular choice, keeping drivers in higher demand. The more that you work, the more money you are capable of earning. On the other hand, it seems that the bonuses and actual pay tend to be better with Lyft.

Many drivers work for both companies to take advantage of all the perks that they have to offer, and a lot of driver success depends on where they work, their five-star ratings, and their free time that allows them to drive longer and more days.

Final Thoughts

While rideshare drivers are not entitled to join a union, there is a lot of action to spur these companies to create better working conditions for their drivers. Rideshare Drivers United is just one prominent group setting an example for others to follow.

Even though it is difficult to know which rideshare company is best for you, weighing all the options and considering your needs will help you make an informed decision.

Consider how much you could earn working for one of these companies in your city!

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