So this is what it feels like to want a union: color me surprised.
I have never been a proponent of unions, collective bargaining, or “group-orieneted” anything. I’ve always felt that emphasizing the group over the individual leads to bullying and diminishes the value and power of each single person. However, after having been a rideshare driver for a while, I can clearly see that there is an argument for unionizing. I have identified some core problems that have been there ever since I started – problems that are ignored and which are not likely to be addressed without forcing the issue.
There are two primary means by which such an issue can be forced. One would be to initiate a lawsuit, which is tedious and cumbersome for one issue at a time… and there is always the chance that you’ll lose. The other way is to build on the strength in numbers by forming a union with others who desire to see the changes you’re seeking.
Some say that we can’t have a union because we’re not employees, but other contractors have unions… so that’s not really a valid argument. I say we can and should have whatever it is we need to ensure our safety at the very least, and also that we are not being taken unfair advantage of when it comes to what we are paid.
Rideshare companies bear the brunt of the expenses when it comes to legal fees, programming, and striving to be innovative. As a driver, expenses range from acquisition of a vehicle and its maintenance including gas, oil, tires and other repairs and replacement parts to express lane tolls that are not reimbursed through the ridesharing apps as well as the cost of return trips when we drive someone a very long way and fail to secure a passenger for the ride home. If our costs outweigh our income, obviously we won’t be drivers for long.
The safety aspect is much more worrisome, and we have been ignored and rebuffed in our complaints about these matters. For example, passengers routinely use an alias and do not have to verify their identity. This means that we could be robbed, raped, or even killed and the police on the hunt for “Big Cash Daddy” or “Mickey Mouse” with no photo on the account. As drivers, we are required to verify our identities and provide an up-to-date image of ourselves – it is more than fair to expect likewise from those whom we are tasked with transporting.
Furthermore, language is a HUGE issue. It is, in fact, the number one complaint I get from passengers: drivers who do not speak the same language they do. It’s an APP. It could be programmed to match up only people who speak the same language, but the companies believe it’s more important to ALL people to get the quickest ride. The truth is, MANY would rather wait slightly longer if need be, in order to ensure their driver can understand them if they have special requests or needs.
I keep saying that one day someone will die because the driver doesn’t speak their language and doesn’t know they’re in the back saying “help me, please” or whatever.
There are a lot of other matchups that could make rides more pleasant as well: match smoking drivers with smoking passengers, for example… or ensure that people with a large dog are only matched with a larger vehicle. THE FASTEST RIDE is not always the client’s primary concern. Often they’d prefer to wait for the most appropriate vehicle and driver for their needs.
What do you think? Please sound off in the comments below.