New York Uber drivers form labor group, seek better pay

The Amalgamated Local of Livery Employees in Solidarity has 1,000 Uber drivers in New York sign up to work on shared concerns

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Pressing for better pay and work conditions, Uber drivers in New York have formed a labor group to lobby for their interests, since they cannot easily unionize.

The Amalgamated Local of Livery Employees in Solidarity, known by its acronym ALLES, has had some 1,000 of the 50,000 Uber drivers in New York sign up to work on shared concerns.


Legally, Uber refuses to recognize its drivers as employees, and says they are contractors. That makes forming a real union tough – so far done only in Seattle. ALLES does not set fares but could emerge as a major bargaining force.

“We want at least a minimum wage. Today, if I am dropping a person from one place to another, I am maybe getting a fiver or $6. We cannot live in New York City,” said Armughan Asar, an Uber driver who is one of the new group's leaders.

The move follows a 15 percent drop in Uber's New York fares in New York. Uber also recently proposed $100 million settlement with contractors in California and Massachusetts seeking to change the status of drivers and thus obtain reimbursement of certain expenses.

“We are here today to rally Uber drivers who are working exhausting hours without receiving enough compensation to survive NYC's high cost of living,” said Kevin Lynch, an ALLES co-chair, adding it was time for the city and state to toughen their regulation of Uber.

Business has boomed for Uber since it launched in San Francisco in 2011.

But the smartphone app has faced stiff resistance from traditional taxi drivers the world over, as well as bans in some places over safety concerns and questions over legal issues, including taxes.

Licensed taxi drivers, who must undergo hundreds of hours of training in some countries, often complain that Uber drivers do not pay for permits or taxes.

Uber says it is not a transport company like taxi firms, and that it simply connects drivers with passengers.

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