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Union selected by Uber worked for Uber, not workers, as Workers’ law was written: Globe

Image: Globe and Mail headline, August 26th.


The only surprise, is that anyone is surprised.

The union hand-picked by Uber to “represent” Uber workers was actually working for Uber and not the workers. Next thing you know, politicians may stretch the truth before elections.

Kudos to the Globe and Mail and reporter Vanmala Subramaniam for getting emails and documents between Uber and the United Food and Commercial Workers through a Freedom of Information request to Ontario’s Ministry of Labour. The documents “detail the way the union and the tech giant jointly pressed the Ontario government to exclude app-based gig workers from being covered by the province’s Employment Standards Act, which requires companites to provide benefits and a minimum wage to their employees,” the article states.

But as Beck Taxi’s Kristine Hubbard noted back on March 18th, “How stupid. Since when do workers not choose the union that will represent them? To the core this is ridiculous especially with a company that has been proven to mistreat workers, evade authorities and misrepresent their impacts on communities.”

Ontario’s dubiously named “Working for Workers” bill was from the start an effort to lard happy words and photo opps around the fact that it does not, in fact, protect gig workers. As the Ministry of Labour explained to Taxi News, the Act ensures gig workers are paid minimum wage “from start to finish for an order. This includes time spent on the way to an order, waiting at the restaurant, and on the way to deliver.” Not a word is mentioned on the minutes in an hour spent waiting between orders; those remain unpaid. You know – the same way government bureaucrats don’t get paid for the any of the time spent between moments of actually serving taxpayers.

Even more of a red flag waving was the fact that the Uber lobbyist who worked for John Tory when Uber arrived in Toronto was the same person working for Doug Ford when the Working for Workers legislation was passed. Of COURSE the union selected by Uber to “represent” the workers had a happy, productive relationship with Doug Ford’s government. It was like a family reunion.

Beyond stating the blindingly obvious – that corporations don’t choose unions, workers do – there is a larger dynamic at work in the Uber/UFCW story. As outlined in depth by labour organizer David Anderson in three articles published in Taxi News this summer, labour has lost its way in Canada.

Anderson believes that the process used to organize and elect labour leaders, originally designed to protect workers, has evolved into one which simply adds another layer of corporate bureaucracy and expense to the workers’ lives without protecting them at all.

“For some of these union leaders, these are the best jobs they will ever have in their lives,” Anderson told Taxi News. “Big paycheques, big cars, expense accounts, lots of travel….once they are in these jobs, they will do ANYTHING to keep them. Corporations realize this, and capitalize on it. The workers are left out in the cold.

“Labour has lost its way in Canada,” Anderson says. “No one represents them.”

Anderson’s full series of articles can be found at these links:

#1: The Case for Unionization in Canada

#2: Labour in Canada: What went wrong?

#3: Canadian Workers need to recover their ferocity