CEO Travis Kalanick’s Departure Offers Uber a Chance to Turn Around

Following is a statement from Rebecca Smith, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project:

“Brand is everything in corporate America, so perhaps it was only a matter of time until company investors removed Uber’s brand-tarnishing founder and CEO Travis Kalanick. But if the company is really committed to making the sweeping change it needs to restore credibility with drivers and consumers, it must fix its biggest problem: a business model that mimics the irresponsibility of its founder.

“Instead of living up to its responsibilities as an employer, Uber has perpetuated the blatant untruth that its low-wage drivers—whose every move is dictated by the company—are somehow in business for themselves. When Uber doesn’t get its way, it sues. When it loses, it appeals. When all else fails, it uses its vast lobbying resources to change the law, as it has in half the states.

“With Kalanick gone, Uber has a chance to turn around. It could become a good corporate citizen—one that cares about drivers and consumers, not just its bottom line. It could comply with the baseline laws it’s been ignoring: anti-discrimination laws, antitrust laws, wage and hour laws. It could pay its taxes, so that workers get unemployment insurance, workers compensation, and social security. It could tell us what data it is collecting on consumers and drivers, and what use that data serves. It could cooperate with city transportation agencies to ensure that it is effectively integrated into a community transit system. It could engage in real negotiations with its drivers’ chosen representatives, with a written, enforceable agreement. Instead of leading a race to the bottom in the on-demand economy, it could begin a race to the top.”

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