New York Times: New York Times: Fair Wages for Uber Drivers

To the Editor:

Re “Uber Case Highlights Outdated Worker Protection Laws” (DealBook, Sept. 16):

Our workplace laws need updating, but not for the reasons the article states. Having a say over hours, or the option to quit if conditions are bad, does not convert workers into entrepreneurs who can forgo basic protections like minimum wage.

Moved by Uber’s and Lyft’s lofty promises, one Seattle driver, Takele Gobena, borrowed money to buy a car that met company requirements and began driving 55 hours weekly. His earnings, after expenses, amounted to $2.65 an hour. Sure, he could quit, but he owed $8,500 on the car that drove his bosses’ profits.

We should update our workplace laws — to ensure that workers like Mr. Gobena can work for a fair wage and a better life, no matter what their classification or their bosses’ claims about what they want. We’d all benefit if these innovative companies stopped battling every attempt to improve working conditions and instead honed a business model that doesn’t rely on a cheap, unprotected work force.


New York

The writer is a senior staff attorney with the National Employment Law Project and co-author of its report “Rights on Demand: Ensuring Workplace Standards and Worker Security in the On-Demand Economy.”

Read the original letter at The New York Times.

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