Uber Has Failed Its Drivers

First I want to apologize for writing about the same topic as Morgan, but I hope that I can touch on some different points. When I began writing my article, she had not posted her blog yet.

Uber has been growing at an extremely fast rate. Its valuation has reached estimates of $40 billion dollars, even though their revenue is substantially lower than any company close to this valuation. Many people are betting on Uber’s success, but how are the employees, and customers reacting to the ride sharing service? Using Kant, you could conclude that the customers are having their happiness increased. Due to the efficiency of the app, customers are able to hail a ride to their exact location with the touch of a button and pay the same way. You don’t have to swipe your card or even pay with cash. This is allowing the customer total freedom and gets rid of the need to call a cab company or wait until an empty one drives by. You could argue that some customers are having some type of negative emotional effect from the service because the drivers don’t know the area and rely solely on their GPS. The issue with this argument is that this doesn’t happen often enough to tip the emotional scale in a negative direction.

Now lets try and balance out the positives and negatives of the app by using utilitarianism. If you could calculate the amount of happiness and ease gained by the customer, this needs to outweigh the negatives benefits to the drivers and outside stakeholders. A lot has been in the news recently about the treatment of Uber drivers and the ultimate hourly wage that they are paid. Many Uber drivers have been going on strike and even attempting to create their own apps. Business Insider recently reported on an app that was being created by many unhappy Uber and Lyft drivers. They were creating an app called Swift that would attempt to help mitigate the cost of drivers by decreasing the amount the app would take from the drivers. Furthermore, drivers have been going on strike attempting to protest the hourly wage they get paid. Many of them argued that Uber drivers are actually being paid less than minimum wage if you account for the depreciation of their cars. Uber has even attempted to influence the drivers by setting up call centers where they have been contacting the recently unionized Seattle Uber drivers about the negatives of unionization.

Finally, you need to consider the job loss for taxi and other driving companies. This has a negative impact on their lives and the lives of their families. You could argue that their inability to transform into the digital age is what made them obsolete. You could even argue that they forced this destiny upon themselves because they unionized and lobbied so much that they didn’t care enough about the customer. I would agree with this, but would add that unless the Uber drivers are being paid a living wage then the overall impact is negative. Even though customers are paying less, the negatives outweigh the positives. The drivers are being taken advantage of while Uber makes immense profits. Until this changes, I think Uber is having a negative impact on the ride sharing business.



This is the script Uber is using to make anti-union phone calls to drivers in Seattle

Uber Drivers Plan Boycott After Fare Cuts Slash Their Earnings to Below Minimum Wage


Image Source: http://i2.cdn.turner.com/money/dam/assets/150625161328-france-uber-protest-00001705-620×348.jpg


One thought on “Uber Has Failed Its Drivers

  1. No one called taxis “ride sharing” until Uber and Lyft and so on. It is a service.

    The difference is in part ownership of the vehicle and the private versus public nature of the “hail.” The digital technologies allowed for a public act (hailing) to now become ostensibly private.

    New technologies often radically alter the econommics of certain sectors. This may end up being a net positive. Fore example, why can’t taxi companies themselves mimic the Uber app and ratings system?

    At the same time, we allow all kinds of regulations on how people use their private property. I won a guitar amp. I can’t crank it as loud as I want wherever I want. I own a house. I can’t use it to run a dress making factory.

    So, Uber drivers amy not be as safe in the legal space of “I won my car and can do with it as I like” neither.


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