Union welcomes Uber & Lyft but says they must obey the law

Uber and Lyft were officially welcomed to British Columbia today when the Passenger Transportation Board approved their licenses, prompting UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak to renew the union’s commitment to fighting for the rights of ride hailing drivers.

“British Columbians want and deserve safe, convenient and accessible transit. We welcome Uber and Lyft to beautiful BC, but we absolutely expect them to comply with the law – both to ensure safety for the public and to provide basic labour protections for drivers,” President Novak said.

President Novak added that ride hailing giants like Uber and Lyft set the standard in the industry and must treat their workers fairly. “It is imperative that drivers are classified as employees so that they have access to minimum labour protections under the Employment Standards Act,” President Novak continued.

According to Laird Cronk, president of the BC Federation of Labour, people “want to know that the workers providing their transit are treated fairly.” Cronk explained that when ride hailing companies misclassify their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, “workers lose access to basic employment rights, like the ability to unionize, access to minimum wage, vacation pay and WCB coverage in the event of a workplace injury.”

UFCW 1518 filed a complaint against Uber and Lyft at the BC Labour Relations Board last December, contending that their employment contracts violate provincial labour law. The union attended mediation with both companies and that matter is still before the board. Earlier this month, Uber Black drivers in Toronto applied to become members of UFCW Canada, making them the first ride hailing drivers to attempt to unionize. “UFCW 1518 will continue to be a leader in the fight for fairness for drivers, and in setting the standard for gig economy and precarious workers,” President Novak affirmed.

UFCW Local 1518 represents more than 24,000 members working in the community health, service and hospitality, retail, industrial, and professional sectors across British Columbia.