Drivers’ Lawsuit Claims Antitrust Laws are Being Violated
Workspan Daily
June 24, 2022

According to the New York Times, a group of Uber and Lyft drivers have filed a lawsuit claiming the two companies violated antitrust laws. 

In the complaint, which was filed in Superior Court in San Francisco and seeks class-action status, three drivers claim that Uber and Lyft, while treating them as independent contractors, have not truly given them independence and are trying to avoid giving drivers the benefits and protections of employment status while setting restrictions on the way they work.

The drivers are also asking that Uber and Lyft be barred from “fixing prices for ride-share services” and “withholding fare and destination data from drivers when presenting them with rides” and be required to give drivers “transparent per-mile, per-minute or per-trip pay” rather than using “hidden algorithms” to determine compensation.

The Times reported the drivers are suing on antitrust grounds, arguing that if they are classified as independent contractors, then Uber and Lyft are interfering with an open market by restricting how they work and how much their passengers are charged.

“Uber and Lyft are either employers responsible to their employees under labor standards laws, or they are bound by the laws that prohibit powerful corporations from using their market power to fix prices and engage in other conduct that restrains fair competition,” the lawsuit stated.

David Seligman, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the lawsuit could benefit from increasing scrutiny of anticompetitive practices.

“We think that policymakers and advocates and courts across the country are paying more attention and more closely scrutinizing the ways in which dominant companies and corporations are abusing their power in the labor market,” Seligman told the Times.

Apple Store Workers Approve First Union

On June 18, employees of a Maryland Apple store voted to unionize — a first for the tech giant.

According to the Washington Post, the vote means workers at the Towson, Md., store plan to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) once a contract is ratified. The vote count was 65 to 33, a nearly 2-to-1 tally.

Last month, the workers and IAM sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook of their intent to organize as the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees — or AppleCore for short.

The Post also reported workers in at least two other Apple Store locations are trying to organize, including at a store in New York and one in Atlanta, which became the first location where workers filed documents with the National Labor Relations Board. But the Communications Workers of America withdrew its request for an election there last month, saying in a statement that Apple’s “repeated violations of the National Labor Relations Act have made a free and fair election impossible.”

Workers in Towson told the Post last month that they hope forming a union will give them a seat at the table on scheduling, pay, coronavirus safety measures and more. Apple currently has more than 270 retail locations in the country, according to the publication.

Union Rejects Rolls-Royce £2,000 Bonus

As reported by BBC, a union representing Rolls-Royce workers has rejected the offer of a £2,000 one-off payment from the firm to help its staff with the rising cost of living.

Of the 14,000 staff at Rolls-Royce who were eligible for the payment, 11,000 members are unionized.

Unite said the offer “falls far short of the real cost of living challenges which our members are experiencing.”

But Rolls-Royce said the offer was “fair” and “a good deal” for staff.

According to the BBC, the lump sum, which was intended for junior management and shop floor staff, was due to roll out in August, starting with the 3,000 non-unionized staff before being paid to the remaining 11,000 unionized workers.

Unite’s regional secretary Paresh Patel said the union was still in negotiations with Rolls-Royce about the pay offer.

Rolls-Royce had also offered workers a 4% increase in pay, backdated to March. A Rolls-Royce spokesperson had told the BBC it would be “the highest annual pay rise for at least a decade” for its shop floor staff.

But Unite said it would also reject that offer.

There are ongoing discussions with unions about a pay settlement for 2022-2023, Rolls-Royce’s spokesperson said, and the cost of living issue is to be a factor in those negotiations.

Elon Musk Clarifies Tesla Layoffs

On Tuesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company would reduce its salaried workforce by 10% in the next three months, while at the same time growing the number of hourly employees, according to a CNBC report.

Speaking at an event hosted by Bloomberg, Musk said this meant Tesla’s layoff announcement would affect around 3.5% of its overall workforce, adding the actual amount was “not super material.” Salaried workers account for about two-thirds of Tesla employees, he added.

The remarks come after an internal memo penned by Musk said he wanted to cut 10% of jobs. In the memo, Musk reportedly said he has a “super bad feeling” about the economy.

According to Reuters, former Tesla employees have filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging its decision to carry out a “mass layoff” violated federal law as the company did not provide advance notice of the job cuts.

The lawsuit was filed June 19 in Texas by two workers who said they were terminated from Tesla’s gigafactory plant in Sparks, Nev. in June. According to the suit, more than 500 employees were terminated.

The workers allege the company failed to adhere to federal laws on mass layoffs that require a 60-day notification period under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, according to the lawsuit.

They are seeking class action status for all former Tesla employees throughout the United States who were laid off in May or June without advance notice.

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