10 May 2016

Labor agreement sets new standard for worker representation and benefits in the on-demand economy

International Association of Machinists (IAM) District 15 forms “Independent Drivers Guild” to represent all current and future drivers using Uber in New York City

Uber and IAM to jointly push for new state legislation to level the tax playing field for drivers, with money going back to drivers and the creation of a new benefits fund

NEW YORK – The International Association of Machinists (IAM) District 15 and Uber today announced an agreement through which IAM will represent all current and future for-hire vehicle drivers using Uber in New York City. Under the five-year agreement, IAM has formed an affiliate, the Independent Drivers Guild (, to give the 35,000 drivers using the app a strong voice as well as new protections and benefits. This demonstrates Uber’s ongoing commitment to improving communications and building a more productive relationship with drivers.

For twenty years, IAM District 15 has been a leading advocate for drivers in New York City, and to date is the only group to have successfully represented black car drivers. The Uber-IAM agreement will ensure drivers using Uber have a higher standard of protections and support than other independent contractors.

Under the terms of the agreement, drivers will participate in meetings with Uber management on a regular basis, which will give them an additional voice and the ability to discuss the issues that matter most to them. Drivers in New York City will also now have the ability to appeal certain deactivation decisions, in addition to the protections afforded them by Uber’s new national deactivation policy.

Drivers appealing a deactivation decision will have the opportunity to sit down with a panel of highly rated and experienced peers who will hear the appeal and vote whether to uphold or reverse the decision. Drivers can have Guild representation in these deactivation appeal proceedings.

Drivers will also gain access to discounted legal services, life and supplemental disability insurance, education courses and roadside assistance, along with an online worker center, providing a central hub for driver assistance and resources.

This agreement is a result of conversations and negotiations initiated by IAM in late 2015.

In addition, the Machinists Union and Uber will campaign for a level playing field—with rides on Uber, taxi and private hire being taxed at the same rate for the first time. This would not only mean more money for drivers, it would also free up resources for a new benefits fund administered by the Guild in consultation with drivers, which could include paid time off, a legal defense fund, a disability fund, retirement savings accounts or an immigration assistance fund.

Also announced today, Freelancers Union will serve as a key advisor to Uber on how to best bring portable benefits to independent workers in the on-demand economy. The 300,000-member Freelancers Union provides affordable, portable benefits to independent workers and has a long history of building complex, networked platforms and solutions to help workers pool resources and achieve healthcare stability. The Independent Drivers Guild plans to utilize this resource to explore bringing benefits to drivers using Uber in New York.


James Conigliaro, Jr., Independent Drivers Guild Founder said:

“For the first time, drivers using Uber are coming together to form a drivers’ guild that will give them a seat at the table with Uber management and critical new protections and benefits. Forming this Guild is crucial for thousands of drivers who need a stronger voice and gives organized labor an opportunity to shape the new economy in a way that supports and values workers and their families.”

David Plouffe, Uber Chief Advisor and Board Member said:

“Drivers are the heart and soul of Uber. This agreement with the International Association of Machinists will offer protections that are designed to match the independence and flexibility they have come to rely on. We’re committed to working with and supporting the driver community.”

Sara Horowitz, Freelancers Union Founder and Executive Director said:

“We have an opportunity today to create an innovative solution for one of the most pressing problems facing freelancers, and to bring stability and protections to independent work. The workforce is changing and it’s our job to make sure our safety net keeps pace. I commend the Machinists for taking this important step.”

James Conigliaro, Sr., General Vice President, IAM International said:

“For nearly twenty years, I have personally been involved in a campaign to better the lives of black car workers in NYC. While we’ve made significant achievements in the past, the Independent Drivers Guild is an historic leap forward. The guild is bringing together more drivers than ever before to advocate for benefits and fairness in the workplace. In negotiating the first guild for drivers using Uber, the Machinists are not only standing up for the 35,000 drivers in New York, but also blazing a trail for workers and unions across the country.”

Mario Cilento, President, New York State AFL-CIO said:

“Today’s agreement between Uber and the Machinists represents a giant step forward for workers in the sharing economy. This will not only raise industry standards, it will give for-hire drivers a voice and ensure due process. I look forward to this agreement being a catalyst for change in kickstarting the broader conversation around labor and technology.”

Vincent Alvarez, President, New York City Central Labor Council said:

“I commend the Machinists for taking this important step to ensure that for-hire drivers benefit from all the dignities, rights, and protections they deserve. Through this landmark agreement, drivers using Uber will enjoy the highest standard of support in the industry.”

Rev. Al Sharpton, President and Founder of National Action Network and National Civil Rights Leader said:

“Today’s historic agreement is a victory for the hardworking individuals who form the bedrock of the innovation economy. This agreement should set a national example for ensuring that workers’ rights are not only protected, but also that their voices are rightly heard and valued as instrumental to the success of the sharing economy.”

Muhammed Barlas, Former IAM Union Member, Current Uber Driver-Partner said:

“Being an independent driver comes with perks—like freedom and flexibility—but also real challenges. Back in 1999, I joined the Machinists union and they fought to give us the kinds of protections and benefits many workers in other industries take for granted. I was glad to have the union in my corner then and I am glad they are standing up for me and all of New York’s drivers now.”

Bassam Assaad, Uber Driver-Partner said:

“As a driver, I work really hard to provide for myself and my family. I love that Uber gives me the opportunity to be my own boss and set my own hours, and this new agreement helps me feel more secure. I thank the Machinists for giving me a voice to discuss my needs as a driver-partner and I look forward to my continuing my relationship with the company.”