Uber’s Culture Harms Riders and Drivers, Too
There is work to do in undoing how Uber’s culture has impacted and still does the vast world beyond its corporate headquarters. Specifically, how Uber’s policies and practices touch riders and drivers.
Exhibit A: Uber’s policies and riders
Uber has spent millions and millions of dollars in opposing a standard-industry safety practice for for-hire cars: conducting fingerprint-based criminal background checks on drivers.
So, when a young L.A. woman recently reportedly wakes to sexual assault by her five-time felon Uber driver, it’s a direct result of Uber’s policy impact. If law enforcement had reviewed this driver’s criminal history, he would probably not have been approved. But because Uber has ferociously fought to screen drivers itself utilizing commercial background checks—which cannot access an individual’s full criminal history—the man’s felony convictions were likely overlooked.
This woman’s pain—and similar agonies commonly suffered by Uber passengers—is the direct result of a public policy stemming from Uber’s corporate culture.
It’s a remnant that should be eradicated.
Exhibit B: Uber’s practices and drivers
If you have just a shred of compassion for human beings vying to make a living, Alison Griswold’s Quartz piece on Uber’s alliance with shady New York auto dealers will make you furious.
Uber, though its ads and onboarding process, has lead New York City drivers to cruelly abusive leases that resemble indentured servitude. Slavery, some of them say.
To wit, leases:
- with weekly payments as high as $500,
- which allow the lessor to effectively garnish the driver’s wages by electronically removing payment from the driver’s earnings before the driver receives them,
- that allow the lessor to report the car to police as “lost or stolen” if a driver misses a payment and neglects to respond to communications for five days.
The point of these leases is obviously to hold drivers in place. In short, business.
In fact, that’s the tie-in between Uber’s crappy background checks and its abusive treatment of drivers: money. Fingerprint background checks slow down driver sign-ups, says Uber. And after repeatedly cutting fares, Uber is struggling with driver retention.
Keep the flow of drivers coming, no matter what, and lock them in place if you have to. That’s Uber’s way, that’s Uber’s culture.
Regardless of whether or not Kalanick is really gone, these are ongoing policies and practices which should be undone.