The Uber office in Santa Monica faced a rally of angry Uber drivers yesterday, more than a hundred car drivers, their families, and members of the Teamsters Union protested outside. The protest was meant to address some issues drivers have with Uber's policies, specifically their inability to unionize, and holes in the insurance policy.
Technically, Uber is not a car service. They are the technology platform that connects drivers to people that need rides. Because of this, Uber drivers are actually employed as independent contractors. This means they cannot form unions. While a union would allow drivers a larger voice within the company, it is a lot to ask of a company that fundamentally does not want to be a car service. Additionally, Uber has boasted how much their drivers make, so they have already undercut the argument that their drivers have trouble making minimum wage.
There was also the matter of insurance. Drivers of UberSUV and UberBlack, the largest, more luxurious car options, have driver-paid insurance policies. The policies cover the car and driver when the cars are "on the clock." But for UberX, the lowest cost, smaller car option, there is an insurance loophole. If the UberX driver is on duty, but they do not have a passenger in the car, the insurance is not active. Drivers and insurance companies are backing AB 2293, which if passed by the State Assembly in California would force coverage during the periods when a passenger is not in the car.