This has long been a debate among Uber drivers and the company amid talk of the former unionizing for increased benefits. Uber maintains that the drivers are contractors and a U.S. labor agency agrees with it. The general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board has concluded that drivers for Uber are employees, not contractors.
The advisory memo from the agency could have weight in a pending case against the company and it could even prevent drivers from joining a union. The memo from the National Labor Relations Board general counsel Peter Robb was released this week.
According to the memo, Uber drivers are able to set their own hours, they own their cars, and are also free to work for the company’s competitors. Thus they can’t be considered employees under federal labor law. An NLRB regional director is to make a ruling on the case. The advisory memos from the general counsel’s office are conventionally upheld in rulings.
The memo will not directly affect multiple lawsuits which claim that Uber drivers should be treated as the company’s employees under federal and state wage laws. Uber said in a statement that it’s “focused on improving the quality and security of independent work, while preserving the flexibility drivers and couriers tell us they value.”