N.Y. RIDE-SHARING WORKERS BEAT FIRMS’ SHAM UNION BILL IN ALBANY

NEW YORK (PAI)—Now all the New York City Uber, Lyft and Via drivers who fought and killed bosses’ sham union scheme in the state legislature in Albany must do is learn the famous tune from the Wizard of Oz. Because the headline on their victory statement said it all:

“DING, DONG! THE BILL IS DEAD!”

You know, like the Wicked Witch of the West.

The three ride-sharing firms tried to get state legislators to approve a measure to let them set up a company union. It would also let them cut the drivers’ pay by—among other abuses–not paying them for waiting time. And starting pay would be $9 an hour, compared to the $17.44 drivers now get via New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission rules.

And that’s important to the drivers and driveristas, most of them workers of color. Because the cuts in base pay and eliminating waiting time pay would have cost each of them thousands of dollars. Oh, and the sham union would get a cut from each ride.

But a May 27 mass protest in Manhattan, at 633 Third Avenue, and a follow-up rally and press conference on the afternoon of June 7 at the state capital building in Albany helped convince lawmakers to throw cold water on the legislation, just like Dorothy did on the witch. So did half a dozen Big Apple state lawmakers who showed up in support outside the capital.

The ride-sharing firms said their legislation authorized “sectoral bargaining.” But it wasn’t real sectoral bargaining, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance retorted. It would have allowed an employer-established sham union, and barred organizing, protests and strikes.

Real sectoral bargaining is common in Europe, where a master contract with the union(s) representing all workers in one sector covers all of its firms. Labor scholars and some leading past and present union leaders want sectoral bargaining on this side of the pond.

The companies, part of the mostly exploitative “gig economy,” wanted to “leave drivers with less pay, gut the unemployment they already won as ‘employees’ under state law, and set up a sham bargaining process that favors company unions and strips the drivers out of a right to strike and protest,” the Taxi Workers Alliance and its allies said.

And while the ride-share drivers hailed their win, they figure the companies will try, try again next year to regain complete control over what the alliance calls “mobile sweatshops.”

“68,000 New York state app drivers got tens of millions of dollars in unemployment

benefits during the pandemic because of employee rights we fought for and won,” said Taxi

Workers Alliance Executive Director Bhairavi Desai in a statement before the Albany rally.

“We aren’t giving that up, ever. And we aren’t going to allow Uber and Lyft to crush the promise of a future with more labor protections that will come with the Pro (Protect The Right To Organize) Act,” labor’s #1 legislative objective before Congress, and the most pro-worker labor law reform in decades.                           ###3weeks6/30/2021

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