Bad news for Uber: Companies will soon have to disclose when they hire professional union busters
Back in February, Quartz revealed that Uber customer service reps had been calling drivers to deliver a carefully worded anti-union spiel.
The script, delivered at the end of a “satisfaction survey” was designed to dissuade drivers from unionizing, following successful efforts by drivers in Seattle and elsewhere to organize.
From the script:
Let me share some thoughts on the ordinance. The Seattle City Council did vote to allow ride-sharing and taxi drivers to form unions and collectively bargain. However, ride-sharing, like Uber, is a case where collective bargaining and unionization do not fit the characteristics of how most partners use the Uber platform. Collective bargaining usually takes place in situations with a workforce of individuals who have a boss, work scheduled hours, usually full-time, and intend to make that job a career. That’s not how most Uber drivers use the platform. No two Uber partners are the same: 69% of Uber drivers have full- or part-time work outside of Uber, and 11% are students. Over half who drive in Seattle drive under 10 hours per week. This is simply a case where collective bargaining and unionization do not fit the characteristics of the work.
Of course, speeches like that aren’t written by the service reps themselves. In fact there exists an entire industry of so-called “anti-union consultants” who advise large companies on how to crush union efforts by staff.
Now the US Labor Department has released the final version of a new rule requiring companies to disclose whenever they hire anti-union consultants. The rule also includes regular attorneys who companies ask for advice on how to crush efforts to unionize.
That means Uber would have to make public the details of anyone hired to produce scripts like the one quoted about. According to Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, quoted in the New York Times. “About 75 percent of employers hire such persuaders, and too often, workers do not know.”
The rule hasn’t yet come into force, so the scope of Uber’s anti-union methods remains a secret. What we do know is the company has spent a small fortune, in Seattle and elsewhere, to try to convince lawmakers not to allow their workers to unionize. The efforts were headed by former Obama strategist turned Uber employee, David Plouffe, who made several anti-union speeches in the city and also lobbied lawmakers behind closed doors.