Make a case for ridesharing as a means to greater convenience or to reduce pollution or to (potentially) disrupt racial profiling, but do not make one based on jobs. Uber has squeezed its drivers and made it clear it would love to be rid of them entirely. Uber is about Uber, not about Labor.
Worse yet is making a case for Uber as a friend of workers by invoking the name of Eric Garner, the African-American man selling loose cigarettes who was choked to death in NYC by police in 2014, as Gerald Seabrooks, a Brooklyn bishop, did this week at a Harlem press event organized by Travis Kalanick’s outfit. Saying that Uber having its way in NYC could have prevented that tragedy is every bit as offensive and untrue as is Kalanick using military veterans as a prop for PR purposes.
Gerald Seabrooks, a Brooklyn-based bishop, said increased employment opportunities would be a boon to minority communities.
“If [Eric] Garner had a job, today he would be alive,” Seabrooks said. “We’re talking economics here. We’re talking jobs.”
But Uber’s reputation isn’t necessarily progressive. The company has come under fire for taking large commissions from drivers’ paychecks, and for fighting to classify drivers as contract workers, rather than employees entitled to benefits.
De Blasio’s own administration has also accused for-hire companies like Uber of prioritizing the wealthy over the working class.
“What it boils down to is this,” taxi commissioner Meera Joshi said in June. “At some point, I strongly believe the city needs to step in and make sure that there is a balance between those of us who choose instant gratification and convenience of travel with private vehicles and the much larger group who cannot afford private car service.”•