California Labor Commission Pops The Uber Bubble, Says Workers Are Employees

Featured in Zero Hedge

Daniel Drew,  6/17/2015


Uber Unfair

The California Labor Commission ruled that Uber is "involved in every aspect of the operation," which means drivers are employees and not independent contractors. Uber says it's "nothing more than a neutral technology platform." The shift to employee status for California drivers threatens Uber's obscene $50 billion valuation in the private market as they face increased labor costs. The ruling could also spark an avalanche of similar lawsuits across the country.

Uber is just one example of the exploitation business model. From Washio to Airbnb, companies in the so called "sharing economy" seek to avoid licensing, regulation, insurance, standard labor costs, and basic business responsibility. This trend threatens the average worker and fosters the development of a peasant class.

The misclassification of employees as independent contractors is one of the most widespread employer abuses. The Department of Labor published a report to summarize the employment relationship under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Here are the parts that Uber clearly violated:
The extent to which the work performed is an integral part of the employer's business. If the work performed by a worker is integral to the employer's business, it is more likely that the worker is economically dependent on the employer and less likely that the worker is in business for himself or herself. For example, work is integral to the employer's business if it is a part of its production process or if it is a service that the employer is in business to provide.

The nature and degree of control by the employer. Analysis of this factor includes who sets pay amounts and work hours and who determines how the work is performed, as well as whether the worker is free to work for others and hire helpers. An independent contractor generally works free from control by the employer (or anyone else, including the employer's clients).
Without its drivers, Uber wouldn't have a business. The drivers are the backbone of the enterprise. Uber, with its "God view" monitoring system and volatile, sky-high surge pricing, definitely controls pricing and how the work is performed. Once Uber starts acting like a real business and faces normal business costs, we'll see how profitable they actually are. Until then, they are just a millennial sweatshop.