Uber May Be Opening Door for 21st Century Unionization

Vernuccio op-ed published in Huffington Post

First, Uber transformed the way people think about transportation; now it may be doing the same to unions.

In an op-ed published by The Huffington Post, Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s Director of Labor Policy F. Vincent Vernuccio explains Uber is working to create a model that could pull the antiquated union model into the 21st Century. In May, Uber and the International Association of Machinists District 15 announced the formation of the Independent Drivers Guild for New York City drivers to allow members meetings with management, create an appeals process for disciplinary action and offer benefit programs.

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What makes the Guild interesting is, although organized by a large labor union, it won’t look much like a typical union. The New York Times reported that the Guild, “would establish a forum for regular dialogue and afford [workers] some limited benefits and protections — but that would stop short of unionization. …

Even though Guild members will meet with Uber, they will not be able to force Uber to bargain over contracts as a traditional union would. Further, no Uber driver will be required to pay dues to the Guild, as they otherwise would in a traditional union in New York. Uber drivers could still work directly with the company and would not need to go through the Guild if they wanted to negotiate with management or appeal a grievance on their own.

Vernuccio explained the guild is good in that it only provides services to workers who want them. However, he notes the Uber-IAM deal could open the door to forced unionism of drivers.

Nevertheless, the IAM and Uber coming to a voluntary agreement to provide optional benefits for drivers suggests the potential start of a positive transition for the labor movement. The voluntary agreement shows that unions no longer need to compel employers and employees into accepting forced representation and paying forced dues in order to support themselves.

Read the full op-ed at The Huffington Post.

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