Advocacy "Union" Starting: Austin Ubers

Yankee

Well-Known Member
For starters, the talk has been growing in this forum for a while of organizing, so I am not the "leader" or the first who thought of it. Here is the proposal: Please suggest ONE location and ONE time for ALL of us to congregate in order to discuss a focused STRATEGY for organizing an Advocacy Group.

The point of this thread is to get all of us on ONE page so we can organize SOMETHING. We might not be able to unionize in any official capacity, but we can do something, even if its an "advocacy" union which the Press and the Public, if not Uber, have to pay attention to. We need spokespeople who are capable and willing to advocate for drivers, challenge Uber, as well as educate the pax about what is happening. We need to agree on bullet points so when the public and press talk to us, we are saying the same message. And we need to STOP bullshitting pax in the car every time they ask "how do you like driving for Uber?" We all realize that this latest fare cut is a big PR win for Uber and generates tremendous support from the public, who think Uber is the greatest charitable organization since Santa Claus & the elves. For me personally, I've more or less quit driving anyway, save for a handful of hours per week because of the situation here. And I refuse to drive X fares (only Select), so this fare cut does not effect me. I am doing this nonetheless because this latest scam by Uber is utterly despicable, and the fact that it can be touted as a "good thing" to "benefit partners" is the worst lie I've heard from then yet. Lets be transparent: "Higher earnings" does not equal "profit for drivers". This is a 30% pay cut all in the name of benefiting Uber, and to hell with the drivers. Since we are not Unionized, there's no way to actually force their hand. If we refuse to log on, they'll replace all of us in a second flat with new crops of desperate people, and run them ragged for a few months before they leave too. Many of you have made some excellent contributions in this vein already. Please weigh in on the thread so we can get on the same page.
 
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Babybluenatx

Active Member
Maybe we should investigate who one of the lobbyist's are who typically fight on the legal turf. Maybe MADD would be willing to advocate for us, if they knew the DWI's would start to spike with drivers leaving Uber over the rates. Shot in the dark comment... But there has to be something.
 

Txchick

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Maybe we should investigate who one of the lobbyist's are who typically fight on the legal turf. Maybe MADD would be willing to advocate for us, if they knew the DWI's would start to spike with drivers leaving Uber over the rates. Shot in the dark comment... But there has to be something.
Also put pressure on your city council. they caved letting Uber in your market. Ask Tx rides to help because she knows the in & out of the transportation industry & poltical landscape in Austin.
 

ATX 22

Well-Known Member
Saturday afternoon, around 4pm, Zilker park by the rock island would be a pretty good first meeting place, I think. I know it's going to be hot, but I also know that reality is that many of us will still be driving because we still have bills to pay. That's generally a pretty slow time of day for ride requests.

My 2 cents worth, still open for other times and places of course.
 

Tx rides

Well-Known Member
Maybe we should investigate who one of the lobbyist's are who typically fight on the legal turf. Maybe MADD would be willing to advocate for us, if they knew the DWI's would start to spike with drivers leaving Uber over the rates. Shot in the dark comment... But there has to be something.
Hunt down former Councilman Chris Riley. He was a huge champion for Uber, and shot down every effort to force Uber to do anything like a normal business. We advised him of some of these practices all along, and he ignored them. Every effort to force the company to be moderately responsible was met with a claim of "hostile requirement". They even scrubbed the lost and found requirements, effectively leaving the return of items on the backs of the drivers. We implored him to consider what would happen if they saturated the market with drivers, displacing the mandatory taxi service.
We asked him to consider a point in time when drivers would only opt to drive with very high surge rates after suffering multiple rate cuts, as we'd seen elsewhere, particularly disturbing since the city was encouraging people to get rides downtown to get drunk. What would happen when the pendulum swung the other direction? What would the city of Austin do with all the new drunks who would get fed up with high surges? Why was the city promoting this creation of expendable jobs with a faceless employer at the expense of higher-paying jobs?His belief was that could never happen, Uber drivers were happy, this was a winning solution, no questions from the peanut gallery please.

Look back at the city Council list from 2014, and hit up those members who championed Uber. Tell them they owe you this much.

See if you can get anyone from RideScout on board. There is another mobility champion in Austin named "Jace DeLoney" he used to be on the Urban Transportation Committee. He's active on Twitter, not sure if he'd wade in to it, but he may have suggestions
 

Yankee

Well-Known Member
Saturday afternoon, around 4pm, Zilker park by the rock island would be a pretty good first meeting place, I think. I know it's going to be hot, but I also know that reality is that many of us will still be driving because we still have bills to pay. That's generally a pretty slow time of day for ride requests.

My 2 cents worth, still open for other times and places of course.


Lets do it, and keep promoting this time/location. I'll be there.
 

Yankee

Well-Known Member
Hunt down former Councilman Chris Riley. He was a huge champion for Uber, and shot down every effort to force Uber to do anything like a normal business. We advised him of some of these practices all along, and he ignored them. Every effort to force the company to be moderately responsible was met with a claim of "hostile requirement". They even scrubbed the lost and found requirements, effectively leaving the return of items on the backs of the drivers. We implored him to consider what would happen if they saturated the market with drivers, displacing the mandatory taxi service.
We asked him to consider a point in time when drivers would only opt to drive with very high surge rates after suffering multiple rate cuts, as we'd seen elsewhere, particularly disturbing since the city was encouraging people to get rides downtown to get drunk. What would happen when the pendulum swung the other direction? What would the city of Austin do with all the new drunks who would get fed up with high surges? Why was the city promoting this creation of expendable jobs with a faceless employer at the expense of higher-paying jobs?His belief was that could never happen, Uber drivers were happy, this was a winning solution, no questions from the peanut gallery please.

Look back at the city Council list from 2014, and hit up those members who championed Uber. Tell them they owe you this much.

See if you can get anyone from RideScout on board. There is another mobility champion in Austin named "Jace DeLoney" he used to be on the Urban Transportation Committee. He's active on Twitter, not sure if he'd wade in to it, but he may have suggestions

OK, I'm thinking we need to get ATX 22 and a few others together to meet in one place to plan a more organized approach. These strategies are good, Tx rides (thank you!) but we have to be deliberate in order to organize in any sincere way. Lets get some people together and meet to plan this step by step. Can you meet with us on Sunday at 4 p.m. at Zilker?
 

Tx rides

Well-Known Member
Also put pressure on your city council. they caved letting Uber in your market. Ask Tx rides to help because she knows the in & out of the transportation industry & poltical landscape in Austin.
Unlike some in my industry, I never tried to block the company from coming into existence. I was approaching it with a "global travel solution" . We wanted equitable rules and regulations for all providers. There is generally more than enough business to go around in this town. But the vision Uber was sharing was a very clouded one, and most in the city do not understand the ground transportation which they regulate. We knew all about pay scales, operating costs, deadhead expenses. We knew that even with the earlier rates, sustainability was going to be a problem. We were concerned that regular, full-time dedicated drivers (Taxi and livery) would drop out, leaving big gaps across the city. If those gaps impacted low income areas, we would have another issue on our hands. We also had concerns about passengers' inability to reach a company directly in the event of a serious issue. This is a big deal for travel managers and their clients. Furthermore, safety concerns would be directed to the city if passengers could not call someone directly with the company.

As opposed as I am to many of the ridiculous regulations the city places on our company, some of the regulations really do make good sense. I think safety, insurance, security and financial responsibility should be requirements of any operator on the streets. I realize that those types of regulations would not do much to keep stable rates for drivers, but it would at least have forced the company to have a local representative who was accountable to the city and its visitors. Furthermore, if they had to go through the hoops of registering drivers, they would not be so quick to flood the market with people from all over the state in order to replace drivers who can't make ends meet with the current pay.

In my opinion, the elected officials who make decisions which impact everyone's lives should not be set free from follow up responsibilities.

BTW, Laura Morrison had a lot of concerns about Uber's practices.in the end, she was the odd man out. You might try contacting her as well. Kathy ToVo, to a lesser extent.
 

Tx rides

Well-Known Member
OK, I'm thinking we need to get ATX 22 and a few others together to meet in one place to plan a more organized approach. These strategies are good, Tx rides (thank you!) but we have to be deliberate in order to organize in any sincere way. Lets get some people together and meet to plan this step by step. Can you meet with us on Sunday at 4 p.m. at Zilker?
Understood. Got to start with a plan. I just wanted to throw out some names and backgrounds to use as you start solidifying your plans.
 

Tx rides

Well-Known Member
Good idea! Tx rides is a tremendous resource, yes!
Of course, for obvious reasons, I can only be a silent investor in this endeavor.:biggrin:

For those of you who may be in this for the long-haul, I would look into getting something set up for SXSW. This is something for which you could recruit nationwide panelists.Yes, it would put faces to names, but I think the company would be hard-pressed if they tried t deactivate you with such a spotlight on them.
 

Tx rides

Well-Known Member
You are the Austin bomb.com
 

Tx rides

Well-Known Member
Of course, for obvious reasons, I can only be a silent investor in this endeavor.:biggrin:

For those of you who may be in this for the long-haul, I would look into getting something set up for SXSW. This is something for which you could recruit nationwide panelists.Yes, it would put faces to names, but I think the company would be hard-pressed if they tried t deactivate you with such a spotlight on them.
Bah. Too late, panelPicker already ended!!!
http://www.sxsw.com/interactive/important-dates
 

Babybluenatx

Active Member
I've worked with Kopser, and he can be a loose cannon at times. He certainly keeps to his own agenda, but.... He is really for the veterans. If we utilize that aspect, that many of us have served, he may be more willing to advise us.

But yeah.. He is ADHD to the extreme...
 

Babybluenatx

Active Member
The Chamber of Commerce put out an initiative to get more people into alternative modes of transportation to help alleviate traffic issues. However, Uber is a member for them.. And they will always advocate for a member over a non one... So that is kinda a nuetral opportunity. Jeremy Martin leads anything transpo for them.
 

Yankee

Well-Known Member
The Chamber of Commerce put out an initiative to get more people into alternative modes of transportation to help alleviate traffic issues. However, Uber is a member for them.. And they will always advocate for a member over a non one... So that is kinda a nuetral opportunity. Jeremy Martin leads anything transpo for them.
Thank you, all these names are good. Please keep the names coming people. The next step is to take a look at all of the resources that we have and identify precisely who are the best people for us to approach to carry forth our agenda. Maybe a loose cannon with his own agenda is not the right person but this should be decided by consensus when we meet. I'm glad people are talking and brainstorming.
 

Tx rides

Well-Known Member
I've worked with Kopser, and he can be a loose cannon at times. He certainly keeps to his own agenda, but.... He is really for the veterans. If we utilize that aspect, that many of us have served, he may be more willing to advise us.

But yeah.. He is ADHD to the extreme...
I thought the same thing about Joe! I really thought he may be 'tappable' considering the lines sold to "Uber Vets"
 

Tx rides

Well-Known Member
For what it is worth , here are some suggestions based on my experiences. Granted, the "social media" message trumps all, and you may never win, but if you keep focused, at least you remain productive internally and have a fighting chance of getting non drivers behind you too.

===================================================
  1. Make the mission short, and simple. Try to keep it to 3 or less goals
  2. Describe What you are NOT (not a venting forum, not a pax bashing movement, etc...etc..)
  3. Stick to 1 & 2
  4. Establish member guidelines
    • There are countless groups, forums, clubs for venting, tall tales, commiseration. Keep to the facts so you can stay focused.
    • Historical accuracy - point to city meeting notes, newspaper articles, etc. Austin Chronicle has some good stories
    • Verifiable statements - point to actual documents, ads, etc.
    • Emotionless statements wherever possible
Some facts which may be useful:
  • Uber convinced the city [cities] to grant special dispensation for their model under the pretense that the taxi industry was failing the communities, and their model of using privately owned vehicles would reduce drunk driving.
    • This can only be sustained if knowledgeable, safe drivers are signed up. Miserable, unhappy drivers will not log on until significant surge rates are in effect. This results in unhappy passengers whoc paid $25 to get downtown, but $200 to get home. After being burned once or twice, the partiers will resort to their previous mode of transportation, potentially opting to driving drunk. Non-party goers (Airport passengers, for example) will greatly resent a perceived gouging and will revolt. Both scenarios reflect poorly on the city
  • The city fast tracked an ordinance to allow this "creation jobs" but there was no consideration of the viability of these jobs. There was no full consideration of the recommendations made by the work group formed by the city.
  • Uber claimed that their drivers had "seamless insurance coverage"
    • Describe the insurance gap which Uber denies
  • Uber claimed that this new agile model created thousands of jobs.
    • Illustrate realistic pay scenarios, taxes, expenses, health insurance, unemployment if deactivated or injured..etc.
  • Uber claims these jobs provide great money and flexibility:
    • A recruiting ad: "Choose when you drive, where you go, and who you pick up"
      • You are penalized for rejecting requests, you don't get to choose where you go, and the rates have been cut by nn.
 
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