Uber dealt blow in California over employee driver

BBC – excerpt

An Uber driver in California has been deemed an employee, not a contractor, in a ruling that could mean higher costs for the app-based taxi service.

The decision by the California Labor Commission means the driver must be awarded more than $4,000 (£2,544) of expenses for the period she worked.

If applied more widely it could mean extra costs such as social security and unemployment insurance.

But Uber emphasised the ruling only applied to this one driver… (more)

There’s now a clubhouse for Uber, Lyft, Sidecar drivers

By CArolyn Said: sfgate – excerpt

Thousands of San Franciscans drive for hire through Lyft, Uber, Sidecar, Postmates, Flywheel, Sprig, Wingz and a host of other on-demand services. All those drivers have one key need in common: A place to heed nature’s call.

A new driver clubhouse called Groove aims to be their pit stop, offering a lounge South of Market where drivers can take breaks, get free coffee, use Wi-Fi and visit the restroom 24/7, as well as buy food-truck fusion cuisine from the likes of Bacon Bacon, Firetrail Pizza, Lil Burma and Dusty Buns.

But more importantly, Groove hopes to help foster a sense of community, said co-founder Emmanuel “Manny” Bamfo, 25. “It’s human nature to want to connect with your peers,” he said.

Groove is located at SoMa StrEat Food Park, a permanent food-truck site in the shadow of the Central Freeway. While the park’s regular hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., drivers will have round-the-clock access to a heated barn-like space with picnic tables and big-screen TVs, as well as a converted school bus with benches where they can stretch out for a quick nap — and of course, the all-important restrooms. (Five stalls each for men and women, Bamfo said.) Another important consideration: The area has lots of free parking….

Will they mingle?

Taxi drivers famously loathe Uber and Lyft, blaming them for siphoning off passengers, and resenting that they operate with looser regulations. Won’t it be a recipe for disaster for cabbies and Uber drivers to mingle?… (more)

Looks like everyone is trying to make a buck off the new “sharing economy”, while lawsuits are being filed to put a stop to it. The sharing economy is creating niche interdependent exclusionary jobs based on sketchy business models. Do you want to hang out with your competition on your break? Makes more sense to meet potential customers.

 

Say Goodbye to Van Ness Avenue, Broadway and Haight Street

What do drivers, Muni riders, Muni operators, taxi drivers, elderly and disabled people, parents, emergency personnel and many families long time residents of San Francisco have in common? A growing distrust for the SFMTA.

Thanks to everyone who voted No on A and B and Yes on L. The voters who were duped into trusting the SFMTA can now enjoy their next bold move. Tomorrow they plan to approve removal of traffic lanes and parking on Van Ness, Broadway, and Haight Street. For details of the plans you can try to read this week’s SFMTA agenda. The meeting is tomorrow, so you have one day to prepare your protest.

RELATED:
Van Ness Avenue next on list for traffic tie-ups in S.F.

 

SF cabdrivers vote to unionize as industry continues to take beating from ride services

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco cabdrivers have decided that it’s time to form a union.

The local industry has been reeling for years as venture capital-backed ride services like Uber and Lyft have proliferated and taxi companies’ calls to The City to level the playing field have done little to help.

On Wednesday, cab drivers voted to initiate the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance, an affiliate of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) — marking the first time cabdrivers will be unionized in The City in more than four decades.

“If we don’t form a union, we’re toast,” said Beth Powder, 35, a union organizer and driver and dispatcher for DeSoto Cab Co.

Cabdrivers discussed unionizing for a couple of months, but in a “standing-room-only” meeting at the Verdi Club on Wednesday night, they voted unanimously to move forward with making it official, said Barry Korengold, president of the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association.

About 150 taxi drivers signed up for the union and pledged to bring more drivers with them, Powder said… (more)

SF taxi driver supply continues to decline as Muni plans another ad campaign

sfexaminer -excerpt

A year after The City started running “Know What You’re Getting Into” ads on Muni buses listing the advantages of riding traditional taxis over ride service upstarts, the cab industry continues to suffer the greatest shortage of drivers on the streets in at least a half-dozen years.

San Francisco’s taxi industry has lost “a tremendous amount” of business to transportation network companies — Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and similar mobile-app-based services — and the number of cabdrivers has continued to decline, according to Chris Hayashi, who said she has never seen the driver numbers so low in the six years she has managed taxis for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

The ad campaign contained the familiar “taxi” sign atop cabs and included a checklist of attributes that differentiate taxis from the newfangled ride services, such as drivers with extensive training, proper insurance and a formal dispute-resolution process… (more)

Why doesn’t the SFMTA just give the Taxi business back to the Taxi companies that ran it for decades with less problems than they have now? Clearly this is not a top priority item and the Taxis might figure it out on their own.

I tried to catch a cab on 2nd Street in front of the ballpark and could not figure out which ones were available. there is no system that I could see and I have no idea where the cab stands are. Neither do most of the tourists.

 

 

Uber Admits That Driver Arrested For Killing 6-Year-Old Worked For Them

by Dan McMenamin : – excerpt

A driver with the San Francisco transportation company Uber was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter for striking and killing a 6-year-old girl in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood on New Year’s Eve, police and company officials said today….
The company issued a statement saying the collision did not involve a vehicle making a trip with a passenger on Uber, but said it could not confirm whether the driver was associated with the company.
“Our policy is to immediately deactivate any Uber partner involved in a serious law enforcement matter,” the statement said.
“For that reason, we urge the police to release information about the driver in question as soon as possible. If the driver is a partner of Uber, his or her Uber account will immediately be deactivated,” the statement said… (more)

Uber’s Motion to Dismiss SF Taxi Drivers Suit Defeated

Posted by The Brandi Law Firm Blog – excerpt

On November 20, 2013, Judge Ernest Goldsmith of the San Francisco Superior Court rejected Uber Technologies attempts to throw out a suit brought by San Francisco taxi drivers seeking compensation for unfair completion from Uber.  The taxi drivers all drive vehicles that comply with the legal requirements of the CA PUC and SFMTA including one million in insurance per vehicle, police background checks for drivers, and vehicle inspection safety checks.  The drivers contend that Uber competes unfairly in that it has not complied with the regulations for carrying passengers for hire.

In his Order, Judge Goldsmith wrote:
“The Court declines to invoke the doctrine of judicial abstention as to the first cause of action for unfair business practices, fourth cause of action for accounting, and fifth cause of action for declaratory relief.  The instant case is distinguished from Alvarado v. Selma Convalescent Hospital (2007) 153 Cai.App.4th 1292, where the court found judicial abstention appropriate where it was called upon to oversee nursing hour requirements and regulate complex health care matters on a class wide basis involving several classes of health care providers.  The gravamen of this instant case is statutory interpretation with no regulatory or administrative implications… (more)

Mustache Disguise Kit: Rideshare Vehicles Move Undetected Through the City

By Rachel Swan : sfweekly – excerpt

Last Thursday, a Lyft driver squired two women to a Mission District dive, violating at least three rules in the process. “You guys care if I keep this in the back seat?” he asked, dangling the telltale pink mustache that’s supposed to hang from the grille of every Lyft car. Other violations included driving straight ahead from a right-hand turn lane, or when he forgot to fist-bump the passengers, disregarding what local legend says is a mandatory company salutation…
But that’s only one in a litany of fears that the SFMTA presented, two weeks shy of the Sept. 5 date to codify rules for rideshare enterprises (now called Transportation Network Companies)…
With secrecy and selectivity in their systems, rideshares have little incentive to serve the public interest, SFMTA director Edward Reiskin writes in the filing. He and other transit authorities believe that these companies won’t co-exist peacefully with taxis until both groups are held to the same standards…
Yet even those proposed amendments won’t level the playing field. Because start-ups are regulated by the state, rather than by individual cities, they’re not burdened by municipal boundaries. A taxi driver taking someone from San Francisco to Oakland can’t pick up a hail on the way back; a Lyft driver can. To SFMTA Director of Taxis and Accessible Services Christiane Hayashi, that disparity alone makes the whole system unfair.
“Whether or not you put a moral overlay on it,” she writes, “the hard economic fact is that it is driving the professional drivers out of the industry.”… (more)

RELATED:
Lyft Sued for Unfair Competition and Labor Violations (Update)
Lyft’s response: “The lawsuit is without merit and we look forward to resolving it quickly and effectively.”…
The rideshare battles that took place outside City Hall a few weeks ago have now moved, unequivocally, into San Francisco district court…
Now it’s for courts to decide whether that business model truly serves the public interest… (more)

Honking Cab Drivers Demand San Francisco Ban On Ridesharing Services

by Sasha Lekach, : sfappeal – excerpt

With horns blaring, a long line of taxicabs circled San Francisco City Hall this afternoon, with cab drivers demanding that the city ban smartphone-enabled rideshare services.
As their colleagues circled the block, dozens of taxi drivers gathered on the steps of City Hall to call for the regulation of rideshare companies such as Lyft, Sidecar and Uber.
One of the rally’s organizers, Barry Korengold, president of the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association, called the startup companies “unfair competition.”
He said, “legal cabs are getting screwed,” citing a large drop in taxi ridership since the companies began operating.
The taxi drivers are asking city officials and the California Public Utilities Commission to step in… (more)

 

San Francisco Taxi Drivers Need Your Support!

worleygig.com – excerpt

Indie Cab Drivers Need Show Of Numbers
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has usurped rights to medallions (i.e. cab permits issued by the City). MTA has announced the cancellation of the medallion waiting list system effectively shutting out cab drivers who in San Francisco are forced to operate as independent businesses, but who are subject to restrictions and regulations unheard of in other industries including double taxation
Under Prop K taxi medallions were non-transferable. They were issued exclusively to cab drivers who put their names on a waiting list. For cabbies medallion ownership brings significant advantages including choice of company to work for, shift scheduling and increased income (non-medallion cab driver income in San Francisco is approximately $20,000 a year including tips). Prop K allowed drivers who could never have afforded the purchase of a medallion to obtain one and to thereby have their own stake in the taxi industry. For the public this type of medallion system means a more experienced workforce, driving safer vehicles
Currently about 1,400 drivers are on the medallion waiting list. Drivers like San Francisco native Iza Pardiñas, one of very few women cabbies in the City, have waited 16 years or more for a medallion (she is #246 on the list). Like Pardiñas, most drivers have little or no savings and cannot afford to buy medallions which now cost $300,000 per an MTA ruling in August (and will soon be sold for $400,000 or more)… (more)

Cab driver advocate Mark Gruberg and SF cab driver Iza Pardiñas are available for interviews, please contact Fly PR for details:       T. 323-667-1344      E. flypr@flypr.net

 

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