Comptroller wants Uber to report on driver treatment

Janon Fisher

Crains New York

Oct 28, 2019

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is flagging down Uber to ask the tech disruptor to come clean about the way it treats its drivers.

DiNapoli sent a letter to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi on Oct. 22 asking the company for a public accounting of corporate governance.

The state has sunk about $12 million of its Common Retirement Fund—the third largest in the country—into 400,000 shares of stock in the ride-hail company.

“As an investor in Uber Technologies, Inc., I am writing to express the fund’s longstanding interest in portfolio companies managing and reporting on environmental, social and governance business practices,” DiNapoli wrote to the San Francisco executive.

Uber has long classified its drivers as contractors who are free to make their own hours and DiNapoli is specifically asking the company for insights on working conditions and "various environmental and social issues" that have been raised in connection to the gig economy.

Labor unions and workers’ rights advocates have complained that Uber's business model makes drivers expendable and deprives them of benefits and overtime that would be mandatory for full time workers.

Last month, California passed a bill that would require the ride-share company to treat its drivers like employees with all the benefits that entails.

Albany lawmakers are expected to pick up on the issue in the next legislative session.

Uber did not respond to a request for comment, but at a state Senate hearing on Oct. 16, the company submitted testimony that it hoped a “third way” was possible.

“It is important to find a third way for gig economy workers that maintains flexibility valued by independent workers and also expands crucial protections and benefits, and on-demand economy platforms must play a role,” according to the written statement.

DiNapoli also sent similar letters to gig worker companies Lyft, Grubhub and Upwork.