I am a former driver in the Los Angeles area who started driving part time in 12/2013 and was forced to strop driving recently in 2015. I was using Uber, when it made financial sense, to supplement my income, and shortly thereafter it became my only means of income. I began driving when, on Fri evening-Sunday afternoon, I would average around $40/hr before commission, expenses etc. Now, you literally have to be stupid to drive for Uber in LA anymore. I'm sorry, but it's true....after expenses and taxes, it nets out to less than minimum wage almost all of the time, even when driving during peak hours to bring the average up. Uber relies on it's drivers lack of understanding of the real costs of providing their services. SO....I filed for unemployment through the CA EDD, under the grounds that Uber's reduction in my pay (I was recently earning less than 30% of what I used to earn when I began) was tantamount to a demotion/reduction of hours. My claim was initially denied on the grounds that I was an "independent contractor" and thus not eligible to receive unemployment benefits. I filed an appeal and appeared before a judge as a part of the regular appeals process. The issue that the judge was SUPPOSED to decide was - "who was my last employer," as I was also employed in a "regular" salaried position while I started working for Uber. The question of "was I asked to leave" or was I "terminated" was the issue to be discussed, as if that other employer had not terminated me (and I continued working for Uber), I would not be due benefits. Anyway....after questions about this key issue were answered, I made sure to guide the judge into a conversation where he would have an understanding of Uber's business practices, and why I should be classified as an employee of Uber. Over 30 minutes, I explained how Uber controlled nearly every aspect of our "partnership" and how we run our "independent businesses." I shared in great detail how Uber frequently forces drivers into accepting "contracts" wherein we have no idea what the job is "ie, where a passenger is going" and then how Uber sends us texts messages in which we are threatened with termination should we cancel when we find out that the "contract" will cause us to lose money (IE, a drive to Glendale or The Valley). He was even filled in on little things....like when a passenger vomits in your car and you're reimbursed for only the cost of cleaning and you can't work for two days....you get ****ed. On and on, etc. I also informed the judge about the recent decision of the California Public Utilities Commision in June 2015, which declared a single Uber driver to be an "employee" and awarded her damages. The judge then concluded that he was unable to decide who was indeed my last "employer," however he indicated to me that if it was indeed Uber, he would advocate that I was indeed due to receive unemployment benefits. He would refer the case back to the EDD. A week later I received a call from a woman at the EDD (I forget the name of her special department) who began to ask me questions. I was aware of the rubric used in the state of CA as a guideline for determining "employee vs contractor" and asked the woman if she was trying to determine whether or not I was an IC or an employee. She said yes, and then after answering her questions, I again delved into a 45 minute conversation with her regarding Uber's business practices. At the end of the conversation, she asked if she could share my contact info within the department for further use. She then also subtly indicated that she would find me to be an Employee of Uber. 2 weeks later, I got a letter telling me that I am entitled to a few hundred dollars/week in unemployment benefits (before taxes). After calling the EDD, I was able to get the first $2500 direct-deposited into my bank account, backdated from the date that I originally filed for unemployment. I just went online today to fill out the rest of the forms, and should expect another $2800 to be deposited within the next 2 weeks. I have reported the income and sent copies of my documentation as proof to Shannon Liss-Riordan, the lead attorney in the Uber Class Action lawsuit. I do not know if if I am the first former driver in CA to be awarded unemployment benefits...but I think that I may be. The dominos are falling. I feel that Uber will lose this case and their business model will be significantly impaired. They are an awful company. You have been exploited. Remember, the former employer pays for your unemployment (as do you in your IC/Payroll taxes). Go get what's yours. I will not be making any further comments or answering any questions. Lastly, **** UBER.