Toronto Uber drivers first to apply for unionization in Canada

UFCW aims to unionize Uber Black limousine and SUV drivers

THE United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW Canada) has applied to the Ontario Labour Relations Board to unionize Uber Black limousine and SUV drivers in Toronto. The more than 300 drivers work in and out of Pearson International Airport and downtown Toronto. They could become the first ride-sharing workers in Canada to gain union representation.

Uber Black drivers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) have focused on three key reasons for unionizing. First, to be paid for all hours worked and have a guaranteed hourly wage. Second, to secure just cause protection and a legally binding grievance procedure. Third, to compel Uber to abide by Ontario’s Employment Standards Act and recognize drivers as employees, rather than independent contractors.

“Like all workers, we deserve the right to form a union and bargain collectively,” says Ejaz Butt, a leading organizer among the Uber Black drivers. “We have already tried every possible avenue to meet with Uber to discuss our demands, but the company has ignored us. Unionization is the only way to protect our jobs and our livelihoods.”

Like many gig-economy workers, Uber Black drivers spend countless unpaid hours every day waiting for customers, monitoring the app, and queuing at hubs at the airport and downtown Toronto. To make matters worse, Uber uses the customer rating system to unjustly terminate drivers and there is no effective complaints mechanism to hold the company accountable. A widely unknown and grossly unfair provision in Uber’s employment contracts is a requirement to pay $14,000 and travel to the Netherlands should a driver wish to dispute an unjust termination. UFCW Canada is an intervenor in an ongoing case against Uber at the Supreme Court of Canada centered on this issue.

“Around the world, ride-sharing and gig-economy workers are standing up for their rights and winning significant gains,” says Pablo Godoy, Western Regional Director for UFCW Canada and National Coordinator for Gig and Platform-Employer Initiatives. “Uber Black drivers in Toronto are now leading the charge for all workers across the country.”

The union anticipates that the Labour Board will schedule a certification vote for this coming Friday, January 17. UFCW says that while Uber is infamous for attempting to block worker demands with costly and lengthy legal proceedings, it will fight at all levels to ensure drivers are properly recognized as employees and that the company sits down to negotiate in good faith with their employees’ union.

Since launching the Uber Drivers United campaign, UFCW has become the leading voice for ride hailing drivers in Canada, signing up hundreds of Uber Black drivers in Toronto and now spearheading organizing efforts in B.C., as well as other parts of the country. To learn more about the campaign to bring justice and fairness to Uber and other ride hailing drivers, visit UFCW’s Uber Drivers United website.

1 COMMENT

  1. The unconscionably lax ride-hailing (TNC) license regulations that have been established by the PTB conflict with BC Human Rights Code and Charter of Rights and Freedoms Equality provisions…

    The license terms that the PTB has established for TNC (ride-hailing) companies

    ->>> allow ride-hailing companies to provide defacto “public services”, while at the same time (unlawfully!) exempting ride-hailing companies from complying with the Equality provisions of BC’s Human Rights Code and Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms:

    http://www.bchrt.bc.ca/human-rights-duties/services.htm

    “Human Rights in Services, Facilities, Accommodations

    “Everyone has the right to be free from discrimination based on protected characteristics when seeking access to or when using a public service… ”

    HUMAN RIGHTS CODE [RSBC 1996]
    http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/96210_01 , Or
    http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/96210_01#section8

    Discrimination in accommodation, service and facility

    (1) A person must not, without a bona fide and reasonable justification,

    (a) deny to a person or class of persons any accommodation, service or facility customarily available to the public, or

    (b) discriminate against a person or class of persons regarding any accommodation, service or facility customarily available to the public because of the race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or age of that person or class of persons…”

    Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section #15:
    https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/const/page-15.html
    https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/csj-sjc/rfc-dlc/ccrf-ccdl/check/art15.html
    ——————————

    BC’s Passenger Transportation Board shd consider that Uber and Lyft are being sued in multiple U.S. states because of their refusals to accommodate persons with disabilities:

    https://www.npr.org/2019/08/21/753034337/ride-hailing-revolution-leaves-some-people-with-disabilities-behind (contains link to 5 minute audio report);

    https://abc7news.com/automotive/should-uber-and-lyft-have-to-serve-passengers-with-disabilities/5314773/ (text, and contains link to 3 minutes video report)

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/berenicemagistretti/2019/03/20/lyft-ipo-federal-lawsuit-disability-discrimination/

    https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2018/06/13/new-york-city-and-uber-reach-settlement-on-wheelchair-accessibility-466459

    https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2018/04/13/in-new-suit-uber-lyft-and-via-target-new-yorks-wheelchair-accessibility-requirements-364226

    “Uber, Lyft and Via may be rivals on the streets of New York City, but they are united in their opposition to New York City’s plan to impose upon them wheelchair-accessibility requirements….”
    ———————————-

    For over 20 years, BC’s Passenger Transportation Board has imposed extensive obligations on BC’s taxi companies to accommodate persons with disabilities:

    https://www.ptboard.bc.ca/accessible_transportation.htm

    “Accessible Taxi Policy:
    Operating Policy | Accessible Taxis | May 2016:
    https://www.ptboard.bc.ca/operational_policies.htm#IV_1

    Reference Sheet 7 | Preparing an Accessible Service Plan:
    http://www.th.gov.bc.ca/forms/getForm.aspx?formId=1199

    But, the PTB’s license policy for ride-hailing companies does NOT require ride-hailing companies that wish to provide services in Metro Vancouver to have wheelchair accessible vehicles…
    —————————

    BC Taxpayers’ are financially liable for (potentially) $$Billions in court-ordered damages payments to BC taxi companies that sue BC’s PTB (and indirectly the BC govt) for its wrongfully allowing massively subsidized, massively indebted, discriminatory-to-persons-with-disabilities ride-hailing companies (such as Uber and Lyft) to operate in BC in a virtually unregulated fashion while competing against not subsidized, extensively regulated taxi companies ..

    Other jurisdictions’ experiences:
    http://uberlawsuit.ca/

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-uber-appeal-1.4963792

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/uber-settlement-rejected-1.3727565

    https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/11/02/toronto-taxi-owners-sue-city-for-17-billion-over-arrival-of-uber-lost-plate-value.html

    https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2018/11/01/taxi-drivers-lawsuit-can-proceed-against-quebec-over-ubers-arrival.html
    ================
    EVEN WORSE:

    Uber and Lyft are both $$ Billions in debt; have always have been, are today, and plan to continue to be unfairly and entirely unjustifiably subsidized (by $$Billions of dollars of loans coming from outside of BC and Canada) while they compete with BC taxi companies that are not similarly subsidized and never could be:

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/09/how-uber-is-losing-money-as-it-goes-public.html

    “Uber is far from making money.

    “… It reported an operating loss of $3 billion in 2018 after losing more than $4 billion the previous year…”

    https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1543151/000119312519120759/d647752ds1a.htm#toc647752_9

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2019/08/16/uber-gives-investors-the-worst-of-both-worlds/#8eeced536b09

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2019/03/14/steer-clear-of-lyfts-ipo/#4dfe350a544d

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