Mark Lennihan / AP
As customers expect the arrival of an Uber, watching as the miniature of a car wind in its way with a map on a phone, Uber drivers say they are also anticipating (and predicting) National decisions Labor Relations Board recognizes them as employees.
NLRB launched a memo of counseling on Tuesday, almost a month after it was originally released. It concludes that Uber drivers are independent contractors and not employees – a classification which means they have no right to form a union or bargaining together.
The memo, which comes from NLRB's general counsel office, serves as a recommendation for future case decisions, but does not affect many existing lawsuits.
Declining the decision came on the heels of a national day of action by Uber and Lyft drivers last week. And, some say, suspiciously close to the poor Uber public offering on Friday.
While the decision can be disappointing with driving advocates, many driving groups around the country are saying they are unperturbed or hopeless as they continue the rules to control the driving conditions in state and municipalities.
"The NLRB is not a place where we hope to protect our rights, because of the Trump administration's position" in trade unions , Nicole Moore, a spokeswoman for Rideshare Drivers United in Los Angeles told NPR, echoing a sentiment shared by other regional advocates.
"Because we can not be a union does not mean that we can not act like a union," Moore added.
He noted that the NLRB statement was narrow in scope; it prevents drivers for Uber, and by Lyft extension and other app-based drivers, from unionizing, but it does not affect issues around the minimum wage or working hours, according to him. "And that's a good thing."
Group drivers throughout the country, inspired by gains in New York and California, have changed their focus from federal-level change to state and city levels.
In California, the state legislature is working to codify a 2018 state Supreme Court decision establishing an "ABC test" for who is qualified as an independent contractor and who is an employee.
In New York City, the Taxi and Limousine Commission voted in December to establish a base rate of $ 17.22 per hour, making it the first city in the country to set a minimum payment rate for drivers based on app. The city has also set a moratorium on new license for car rental.
Chicago advocates use New York as a model.
"We are looking at what New York City is doing and we focus our attention on the city hall," Eli Martin, a driver and co-founder of the Chicago Rideshare Advocates, told NPR.
Martin opposes most Chicago drivers not looking to convert to health insurance company employees. "The path forward does not start a traditional union to negotiate with the company," he said.
Instead, he said most of the group's needs could be addressed by local elected officials. "We are trying to get the number of drivers, some kind of salary increase" and city administration in the Uber and Lyft removal process.
With more than 67,000 active Uber and Lyft drivers throughout the city, Martin expects the organization to use significant pressure on the new mayor and sit aldermen.
Angela Vogel, a driver and member of the Philadelphia Drivers Union, has noted that the NLRB is just one of many agencies that can determine the status of the employee. The IRS, for example, has its own rules to determine who and not an independent contractor. And state agencies often decide on eligibility of benefits, including workers compensation and unemployment.
"So, what I say to people is simply because the NLRB says that we are not employees does not mean that state regulators will not have different types, and that's what we need keep fighting, "says Vogel.