Democratic presidential hopeful and self-described socialist Bernie Sanders made clear Thursday his opinion on the ride sharing company Uber – he has “serious” problems with it.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Sanders detailed his position on everything from trade to the importance of unions. He also made clear his opposition on one of the more well known companies in the newly emerging sharing economy. Sanders said he has “serious problems” with Uber because it is so “unregulated.”
Advances in digital technologies have allowed companies like Lyft, Uber, FedEx and Airbnb to use contracting in unique ways. Known as the sharing economy, companies make digital platforms in which individuals can create their own business ventures.
The sharing economy though has come under attack in recent years. Unions have been some of the more adamant rivals of it. Contracting as a whole makes it more difficult for unions to organize workers, because unions have to pursue one contractor at a time as opposed to all employees within a single workplace.
“The Teamsters Union has been leading the fight against misclassification on both the state and federal levels for more than a decade,” Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said in July. “The administrator’s interpretation only reinforces what we have said for years – misclassification must be eliminated.”
Standing against companies like Uber is not too surprising for Sanders. He has made labor policy and union rights a fundamental aspect of his campaign. He has even been able to gain support from many union leaders who have been upset with Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
Though contractors can still join a union, it’s much easier to unionize employees because consent doesn’t have to be unanimous. If a union can get the majority of employees within a single bargaining unit to agree to representation, it becomes the Exclusive Representative of all the employees.
If that union happens to exist in a mandatory dues state, all the employees within a unionized bargaining until must pay union dues or fees whether they agree with the union or not.
Clinton, a 2016 rival of Sanders, along with top officials in the Department of Labor have also come out against the sharing economy. They argue the sharing economy is unfair to workers because they should be classified as employees of the company instead of contractors.
“I’ll crack down on bosses who exploit employees by misclassifying them as contractors or even steal their wages,” Hillary said during a July speech in New York City. “It’s also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future”
The companies though are not taking the abuse without a fight. In June, when a California judge ruled Uber misrepresented one of its employees as a contractor the company shot back, arguing it is merely a technological platform used by independent drivers.
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