Uber’s car leasing program turns its drivers into modern-day sharecroppers
Behind the shiny veneer of Uber’s venture capital–backed technological innovation lies a time-tested business model: labor exploitation. Uber’s latest scheme is a new spin on the age-old practice of sharecropping. Struggling to find enough drivers willing to put miles on their own cars, Uber recently began offering subprime auto loans to would-be drivers, conveniently extracting payments directly from their paychecks, or (because Uber insists its drivers aren’t its employees) their “Uber earnings.” Since last July, Uber and its wholly owned subsidiary, Xchange Leasing, have partnered with auto dealerships, advertised to drivers, and even repossessed cars from drivers who lag in their payments.
Uber isn’t the only company to resurrect sharecropping in modern industries. Lyft is working with investor General Motors to rent cars to its drivers. Until 2008, FedEx purchased custom-made trucks and sold or leased them to potential drivers. Janitorial companies have gotten into legal hot water for requiring their cleaners to buy franchises and charging them additional fees for clients.
These are just a few of the companies that insist their low-wage workers are independent business people. Here’s the rub: independent business people make capital investments in their businesses. But these workers lack the heavy capital needed to start a business and can’t afford to pay upfront. So the company conveniently arranges for them to buy or lease equipment, often through an exploitative deal. These ......
This article was brought to your attention by Legal Taxi Drivers Association of St Petersburg, FL
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