Have you ever found yourself with your back against the wall facing adversaries from all sides, even the side you are trying to defend? That is what this Ride-Hail stuff is doing to me. I know it seems like I do not really write to this blog very much any more, but it is because my time is so severely used by trying to start a Driver’s Association to represent drivers in the Ride-Hail industry.
The problem is, the Ride-Hail companies like Uber and Lyft are abusing the hell out of their drivers and the drivers just won’t get off their collective asses and defend themselves. Last year when I joined Uber, they were advertising . . . “Work for Uber, make 5k per month.” Well I just about figured I had struck gold or like the Beverly Hillbillies done found me some crude. Well after getting screwed to the wall in a car deal set up by Uber, I tried to make it and for about a month and a half was doing great. Between Uber and my other activities I was making some first class cash. Then the first rate reduction from Uber. I think it was about mid-September and by the end of September I was confident my money was getting funny.
By December I realized that I had not been making money but spending my retirement income to support my driving for Uber. I had been communicating with Uber repeatedly advising them that I was unable to earn adequate income thinking it was more a cash flow issue as little by little my driving for Uber reduced my resources to the point I no longer could afford to support my driving for Uber as I did not have anymore cash available to even pay for gas for the car. The car payment of $951.00 per month was being made, but not by driving profit as it was costing me more per mile to drive for Uber than I was getting paid. The difference being provided by my retirement income. Eventually my other financial obligations failed to be met. First PG&E, then the rent, then the water, then the cable, and then after chasing my tail only to discover I was not able to to earn enough regardless the hours worked, I tried to find a way to get Uber’s attention to my problems, and got told I needed to work harder. You see by Uber Logic my car payment should not be part of my calculations as I would still have a car payment if I worked for Uber or not.
Well that is not true for multiple reasons, the first of which was I didn’t need the car before Uber as I already had a vehicle for personal use. I bought the car I bought because it was through Uber’s Auto Purchase Program to use the car for driving for Uber as an investment into my “partnership” with Uber. This investment ended up being 49k for a 25k car that was sold to me by trickery supported by the belief that the dealership was working in concert with Uber to provide me a great deal on a car with both Dealership and Uber discounts at a fair interest rate. I was not even aware of the 22.75 interest rate until I was contacted by Exeter Financial two weeks later by one of their employees laughing while he told me my first payment of $951.00 was due the next day. I later learned that I was given such a ridiculous loan rate because I had no credit history. It seems that living within my means for 20 to 25 years is not credit worthy risk, but suckering me into debt that could not ever be paid was the appropriate route to take. No, I did not ever knowingly sign an agreement accepting the terms of the loan, nor the end result of 49k for the purchase of the car. The salesman had told me that I would have a high payment as due to the use of the vehicle the life of the vehicle would be reduced and so would the loan period. By the figure we discussed the car which was sold at 27k would cost me 32k with the loan of 36 months. Trickery and deceit led me to a loan to 49k with a 48 month loan. I have made numerous complaints to Uber about the situation. Uber did nothing. I never received discount from either the Dealership, nor Uber which had I received such from either my loan could have been reduced by at least 5k or more. I also asked about this repeatedly only to be advised by Uber in December that the car sold to me by the Dealership for use for working with Uber, through the Uber Auto Purchase Program was not on the approved list of cars to be purchased, so I was not eligible for the advertised discount by Uber.
In Southern California and others cars were made available to drivers by another “Loan Shark” type of company and when the rate reductions affected these drivers, Uber let the drivers just return their cars without penalty. Since my car was a purchase Uber has no obligation to take any action to provide relief for me. Since the beginning of this year I have been able to make the required payment for the car from earnings working with Uber but made enough through Uber at my expense to make the payments up to last month. I presently am almost 1 month past due on the loan and have been given 7 days to pay the delinquency or return the car and suffer the repossession on my credit.
Let’s back pedal a bit back to the first of the year. At the beginning of the year, I started looking at what Uber was doing to their drivers and it took little looking to realize Uber is screwing their drivers crazy. Drivers in the Ride-Hail industry are the only income producing workers these companies have. They have no other income producers. I continue to observe the treatment of drivers and it takes very little observation to reach the determination that Travis Kalanick and his crew believe the drivers all to be ignorant clods that he can manipulate to the point of complete financial failure while continuing to provide Uber income until the driver eventually gives up and quits. By this time Uber has reduced rates to 48 major markets that Uber serves. The end result is everyone driving as UberX which is the regular person using their personal car to provide rides to people, no longer is really making a true sustainable income. And, Uber has done this to most every driver nation-wide.
No, that is not true as I learn not long later. Drivers on the upper car levels such as UberSelect, UberBlack, and UberSUV are still making an excellent income even when forced to pick up UberX Riders. Apparently a majority of these cars qualify for Limousine and hold “commercial” status and are regulated by the Public Utilities Commission which leads me to believe UberX Drivers are the suffering class.
During this same period I discover that we had received a second contract during November that I was unaware of. I discovered many drivers had no knowledge of the November contract that we all had approved via our work SmartPhones. Uber had piggy-backed the new contract with an application update so that many of us believing we were approving the application update approved the contract change without realizing we had done so. By this time I am fed up with the deceit and trickery of Uber and wonder why nobody is doing anything about it.
Most of the affected Uber Drivers are struggling, immigrants, previously unemployed or previously inadequately employed that need the job to survive. Many like myself discover they are sinking deeper and deeper into the red while still generating cash flow that leads them to believe they are making money that they are not truly making.
Uber drivers have made numerous web sites and FaceBook Group pages where they vent their frustrations about Uber’s ongoing failure to provide for the drivers, lack of sufficient income, accidents not properly covered by insurance, tickets from police and the list continues, but nobody is actually doing anything to defend the drivers as they fall further and further into the rut Uber has dug for them. *Uber has hired another 10,000 drivers all hyped up on Uber lies that they can be rich by the end of the week driving for Uber. Of course these driver believe Uber to be wonderful regardless what they are told by senior drivers so trying to warn these new drivers provides negative result until about three months later when the drivers realize something wrong.
Myself, I am both offended and angered by the fact that a 41 billion dollar corporation must be under the leadership of narcissist people that enjoy making fools out of everyone because they have the money and the attorneys to push, prod, and likely encourage people to act in their favor. The reality that the collective of Ride-Hail Drivers working under contract to numerous Ride-Hail companies need an advocate, a protector, or a Representative to become involved with both legislative process and the drivers contracts. As the Drivers are not employees they cannot join a union to seek protection of a union. As Independent Contractors the Drivers are actually independent Small Business that requires an Association to represent them as a collective. So, without two nickels to rub together in hopes of making a dime, I start my campaign to form an Association hoping to acquire a membership of like minded Drivers in sufficient numbers to at least be able to claim the Association represents a significant amount of members to attain the attention of the Ride-Hail companies or if necessary attain attention of Government Agency to resolve the abuse the drivers are being subjected to. There may be some that see the plight of these workers as their own problem, I don’t. A long time ago this Country did away with such abuse of the American Worker. We do not treat our workers with such abuse. We treat all of American Workers with respect and provide an honest days pay for an honest days work. I was raised believing this was the law of the land and workers had rights that protected them from the abuses the Ride-Hail Drivers are subjected to today. But, I was soon to learn that not only does nobody give a damn about these workers, but nobody gives a damn about anything but themselves, not even Government.
Presently there are claims by Uber that they have created over 162,000 jobs nation-wide. Uber intends on making this claim part of their presentation to the Annual Meeting of Mayors to be held in June I believe of this year. Uber is going to present data selectively mined from it’s database that will demonstrate Uber has created 162,000 sustainable family supporting jobs nation-wide by using data from last year, prior to the rate reductions the Drivers currently work under. I have emailed both the Mayor of Sacramento and the Mayor of San Francisco asking that I be allowed to speak to the conference to provide the truth to the attending Mayors. As of yet, I have not received any form of response from either Mayor’s office regarding my request.
Anyway, over the past few months I have tried many different ways to solicit the unification of the Ride-Hail drivers so that we can by membership in an Association present our grievance to the Ride-Hail companies seeking relief from their actions. I do not know where these people come from but there is not a public forum, chat, or other public media on the Internet that does not seem as though it has resident “Trolls” that interfere with almost any responsible or important conversation attempted. People that have been visiting many of these web sites for a period of time suggest that Uber actually has personnel assigned to interfere with any attempts to hold reasonable conversations specifically to prevent Drivers from unification or challenge to Uber for any of their wrong-doings. At first I did not believe such to be true in any way, but now I see that certain persons seem to spend at least 8 hours per day harassing people using these web sites. I( believe one day I will seek subpoena of server records to see how many of these individuals can be traced back to Uber or other Ride-Hail company. My point being that I do believe these trolls are specifically intended to interfere with any attempt by Drivers to improve their position by unification. Never before have I observed so many American Workers to willingly allow themselves to be trod upon without seeking corrective action to resolve the conditions. Throughout the entire time I have been involved with Uber, they have selectively mined their database claiming Driver earnings of yesterday to be demonstrative of today’s earnings. Even this has not brought about the anger of the drivers to cause them to act in their own defense.
This past month I was reading over a Senate Bill by one of our States that had the requirement built into the Bill that TNC Drivers (Ride-Hail Drivers) were forbidden to receive any form of cash payment including tips. While I found this inclusion to the Bill to be concerning it really didn’t raise any true red flag to me as I figured Uber was just seeking method to get their 20% out of driver tips also. Then I stumbled across Utah’s Senate Bill 0294. On line #103 of the bill it actually states that the driver is to be paid in excess of what it costs the driver to transport the rider. There is no controlling amount of this excess. There is no rate that serves as the lowest rate the Ride-Hail companies can force the driver to accept. But, there is written into this Senate Bill that the only requirement of compensation to the Driver is that it be in excess of what it costs the Driver to transport the Rider. This is obscene. This is an offense to the entire United States of America, to every Worker, to every Government Official, and to every American. Why? Because unless somebody can tell me that I misunderstand the wording used in this Senate Bill, the excess required by this Bill may be as low as $0.01 which means the Senators and Government Employees that drafted this Bill and the Senators that subsequently voted the approval of this Bill show no value more to the American Worker than $0.01 and that seriously offends my sense of right and wrong.
I do not even have to look, though I promise I will. I do not even have to look at all of the rules, regulations, Senate Bills, Government Proposals, and other legal action that has been drafted to regulate the Ride-Hail Industry all will have similar wording affecting the Ride-Hail Driver contained within. I will be reviewing every document I can find relative to this matter to see if this is true. If it is found that numerous documents intended to become law or regulation affecting Ride-Hail Drivers does include such wording, especially those already approved with such written within, I will personally ask the US Attorney General to prosecute all involved in the writings of these documents for conspiracy to undermine labor laws of this Country whether written into law yet or not, just because these people have demonstrated such disregard for the American Worker that they need be brought before the Courts just to demonstrate we will not tolerate such abuse to the American Worker. (Alright, so I went on emotional rant for this last paragraph and likely I won’t be able to cause anybody be prosecuted for their wrong-doings in this matter, but even if I can’t they should still be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.)
“Honestly I just don’t want to cross a company that can “deactivate” me at will. Yeah I would have legal recourse but I need the money now. That’s all. I applaud your efforts don’t me wrong. I just need to play things safe.”
Now, returning to my attempts to unify the Ride-Hail Drivers so that a representative can serve as their voice and prevent such abuses as I have disclosed. I have learned that due to the “rating system” used by the Ride-Hail Companies that allows a driver be terminated by ratings of competitive companies, drunks, drug users and anybody having a bad day coupled with the past practice of the Ride-Hail Companies to terminate anyone that speaks out against them, that most Drivers fear reprisal from the ride-Hail companies and will not risk joining such association as they need these jobs. Most of us realize that there are laws that protect the worker from reprisals for joining unions and associations. But, we also work for Travis Kalanick, and Travis Kalanick could give a damn less about the law. So regardless any attempt made by myself and/or anyone else, there is little likelihood that the Ride-Hail Driver will ever attain representation or even a fair shake at reasonable wages and I have neither the expertise nor the cash flow to try to find a way. I do know that it is a sad day for America with this knowledge revealed without resolve made, and I apologize for my failure to fix this.
I also apologize for the distraction these efforts have caused to tis blog . . . I know my regular readers have missed me,