Uber State Interference: How TNC’s Buy, Bully, and Bamboozle Their Way To Deregulation


Executive Summary

Over the past four years, transportation network companies (TNCs), primarily Uber and Lyft, have convinced legislators in the vast majority of states to overrule and preempt local regulations and strip drivers of rights. The speed and sweeping effectiveness of the industry’s use of this strategy, known as state interference (or preemption), is unprecedented.

In this report, we set out to describe how two upstart companies have been able to convince state governments to swiftly and aggressively deregulate their industry and how their success has impacted stakeholders. The report seeks to arm legislators and the public with knowledge and tools to understand and address this phenomenon, protect communities most impacted by this industry, and uphold local democracy.

In-depth case study analyses in four states, Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington, reveal that the TNCs’ strategy has been to create political crises in localities—where for-hire transportation has traditionally been regulated—and then move state legislators to solve the manufactured crisis through state interference. The case studies detail the “barge in, buy, bully, and bamboozle” tactics the companies use to advance this strategy and the impacts on for-hire drivers, who are predominantly immigrants and people of color, and the communities in which they live.

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About the Authors

Rebecca Smith

Director of Work Structures, National Employment Law Project

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