NY Taxi union wins lost pay for Uber drivers; says that Uber owes much more

The New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) has won a big victory over Uber, which will result in millions of dollars in lost wages being returned to drivers.

NYTWA says that Uber owes much more than the millions that it has agreed to return to drivers and that the taxi workers’ union will continue to fight to get all of the money owed by Uber to drivers.

“Uber is sending you back money it claims it took from you by mistake,” said an NYTWA message to Uber drivers. “Basically, we have Uber cornered so they are trying to pull a fast one and avoid the court and avoid paying drivers everything you are owed. Nice try, Uber. But the drivers are going to win this one!”

NYTWA on May 12 filed an amendment to an earlier suit against Uber. The original suit filed in July 2016 charges Uber with wage theft and misclassifying its drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.

The amendment charges Uber with acting unlawfully when it makes drivers pay the sales taxes and black car surcharges that are included in fares charged to customers.

A week after the union filed its suit, Uber announced that it had miscalculated its portion of the fares taken in New York City and would be returning tens of millions of dollars to drivers.

According to Uber, it calculated its commission on the full amount of the fare including taxes and surcharges when it should have deducted the taxes and surcharges before calculating its commission.

But the union argues that Uber’s offer to reimburse workers for lost wages doesn’t compensate drivers for all the money that the company owes them because drivers will still be paying taxes that should be paid by the company.

“Uber drivers are owed back the entire tax and (black car) surcharge amount that Uber unlawfully stole from you!” reads the NYTWA message.

If the union’s suit prevails, Uber will owe much more to its drivers.

The New York Times reports that after examining relevant documents, it has concluded that the Uber’s current method for calculating its commission “could have cost drivers hundreds of millions of dollars.”

NYTWA urged Uber drivers not to sign anything that the company might use at a later date to get out of returning  more money that it owes its drivers.

“When they ask for your bank account information make sure you are not signing anything that says by accepting this money you are giving up any claims for other money owed to you,” said NYTWA’s message.

 

 

Taxi workers strike to show opposition to anti-Muslim executive order

Members of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) on January 28 staged a strike at the Kennedy International Airport in New York City to show solidarity with the people being detained at the airport because of President Trump’s executive order banning Muslims from seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the US.

“Today (taxi) drivers are joining the protests at JFK Airport in support of all those who are currently being detained at the airport because of Trump’s unconstitutional order,” reads a statement issued by NYTWA, a 19,000 member, AFL-CIO affiliated union.

As a result, the airport’s usually bustling taxi stand was vacant during the Saturday night strike.

“Drivers stand in solidarity with refugees and immigrants coming to America in search of peace and safety and with those simply trying return to their homes here in America after being abroad. We stand in solidarity with all of our peace-loving neighbors against this cruel and unconstitutional act of pure bigotry,” continues the statement.

In addition to standing in solidarity with people denied entry, NYTWA also criticized the executive order itself, which singled out Muslims from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

“As an organization whose membership is largely Muslim, a workforce that’s almost universally immigrant, and a working-class movement that is rooted in the defense of the oppressed, we say no to this inhumane and unconstitutional ban,” said NYTWA.

NYTWA also was concerned about the effect that President Trump’s executive order would have on immigrants and Muslims who make a living by driving taxis and other passenger vehicles, which is already a dangerous job.

According to NYTWA, professional drivers are 20 times more likely to be murdered on the job than other workers.

Trump’s executive order increases this risk, said NYTWA, because at the heart of the order is an anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant message that may encourage those who already harbor these sentiments to act on them.

“We know all to well that when government programs sanction outright Islamophobia and the rhetoric is spewed from the bully pulpit, hate crimes increase and drivers suffer,” said NYTWA.

The union went on to say that Trump’s executive order puts non-Muslim members at risk too.

“Our Sikh and other non-Muslim brown and black members also suffer from anti-Muslim violence,” reads the statement.

After word got out that union taxi drivers were on strike at JFK, Uber informed customers that it was suspending surge pricing at JFK.

That move backfired. Many customers interpreted Uber’s message as strike breaking, which led to a spontaneous online boycott.

On Twitter #DeleteUber popped up creating a public relations problem for the ride share company.

Uber tried to halt the damage by issuing a statement apologizing and telling the public that it had not intended to engage in strike breaking.

After the public show of support for its strike, NYTWA issued another statement thanking those who stood in solidarity with the union and its strike against bigotry and criticized Uber for its cooperation with the Trump administration.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is one of President Trump’s economic advisers.

The union also criticized Uber for its role in turning full-time, good paying jobs into part-time, low-wage work.

“Let’s hold Uber and every single corporation accountable for its greed-at-all-cost complicity in (Trump’s) inhumane policy and every such policy that follows. And let’s equally hold them accountable for the politics of impoverishment,” concluded the union.