I must be missing something. Seriously. Please explain it to me. First, I don’t get how Uber is still called or classified, or more exactly why so many people seem to continue to let Uber or anybody else get away with it. Second, I don’t get titles and posters like these about “Uber strikes” or “Uber unfairness”.
Misnaming and newspeak begin in the FAQ section of partners.uber.com:
Q: What is Uber?
A:Uber is a smartphone app that quickly connects drivers with people who need a ride. Founded in 2009, Uber now helps tens of thousands of people around the world earn income as drivers.
No. Uber is not an app, and this answer itself says it very clearly, if you don’t let its beginning fool you. Apps are coded, not founded. Uber is a for-profit company, founded to make money through some intermediation software. And any Uber driver who thought that a company founded to make money wouldn’t make its best, in this world and though economy, to screw him to make more money is naive, really. They have to. This wouldn’t have been a big deal if all Uber drivers had used it as it was and still is marketed:
Q: Can I drive whenever I want?
A: Uber gives you the power to manage your own schedule. When you’re available to offer rides, simply get on the road and start accepting requests. When you have other things to do, go offline until you’re ready to drive again.
If I understand it correctly, calling the ways of using Uber that are making the news these days “sharing economy” which went “on strike”, instead, is ridiculous and self-contradicting. No, it’s worst: it’s something that was bound to happen, and who got caught into it has very little to complain, or strike for. Here’s what I mean.
People who became Uber drivers to just recover some of the fuel and car costs for trips they would do anyway are a whole different story: they may (I repeat: may) claim with some legitimacy that what they do is “sharing economy”, but above all they could never be seriously hurt by Uber lowering its fares. The moment coping with a stranger on their drive home became not worth the pocket change they get for it, they’d shut down the app and go on with their lifes, letting Uber go out of business, without a second thought. And there is no way that anybody could get away with calling this “a strike”. No kid who wouldn’t share his toys with his friends ever said he was “on strike”.
But all this anger and noise in the news, if I am not missing something, is from or about people who made of Uber (or had to make, which doesn’t change my basic point) their main, if not only source of income, and of giving Uber rides their full time, or primary activity. Heck, I even read of people who bought a (new) car just to become full time Uber drivers.
Uh?!? If making a living by giving rides to strangers full time is “sharing economy”, then so is every taxi company worldwide since at least the 80’s. Where’s the news, or the reason for the new name? If it’s work, it’s not sharing. How could it be?
Above all, it seems to me that people who signed up as Uber drivers thinking to make of it their only or primary source of income for anything more than a few months, simply fooled themselves. They gambled and they lost, period.
By making themselves so dependent on that money, those people simply accepted a JOB by a company that never promised minimum wage and never will, because it is NOT obliged to. What Uber formally proposes is to become their business partner, and business partners never had any such obligation or protections by or against each other, did they now? Nor did Uber ever hide that this whole show wouldn’t work without their software and servers, and that this fact would let them do pretty much whatever they bloody want around it.
I perfectly understand that, regardless of how and why they got into it, today many of those “Uber drivers” need that money to make ends meet, not to buy a better set of golf clubs, and that they often have no viable short term alternatives. I don’t mean to make fun of them, really. I simply don’t think that calling what they were doing “sharing”, or what they are doing now “strike”, really helps them. Ditto for any support to the idea that Uber ever owned them anything but the freedom to leave whenever they want, even if they misunderstood that freedom in good faith. Am I missing something?