It was just two weeks ago that the Teamsters issued a statement supporting European taxi drivers in their protest against those newfangled rideshare drivers who use the Uber app. But in Los Angeles this week, Teamsters stood with Uber drivers. What's going on here?

Turns out, Teamsters Local 986 is trying to help Uber drivers in the Los Angeles area organize a new association (not a union) for app-based commercial drivers. That would include drivers who use Uber, as well as apps like Lyft and Sidecar. Ron Seamans Jr., business agent at Teamsters Local 986, said in a statement that the Teamsters, "are pleased to assist in what we believe will be a strong movement."

The ride hasn't been completely smooth for ridesharing apps recently, but the protest this week was sparked by changes that Uber brass made to which cars could be part of the Uber Black (the higher-end service) and Uber SUV (larger vehicle) programs. Basically, that drivers would need to have a model year 2010 or newer vehicle. And they had just two weeks (later increased to four) to upgrade. The lower-cost Uber X program can still have older vehicles. There is also a dispute over when Uber's insurance is active for the cars in its service and potential support for the California Legislature bill AB 2293, which will give the drivers more coverage. Uber drivers trying to organize say on thing that they're looking for here is better communication with Uber about decisions like this. You can read the Teamsters statement below.
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Los Angeles-Area Uber Drivers Organize Tuesday Demonstration At Company Frustrated Drivers Reach Out to Teamsters Local 986 International Brotherhood Of Teamsters.

SANTA MONICA, Calif., June 23, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Uber drivers, frustrated with a general lack of communication, arbitrary treatment and unfair business practices, are organizing a Tuesday demonstration at Uber Technology Inc. offices, 1437 Seventh Street, Santa Monica, Calif., at 11 a.m.

In an effort to have their voices heard, drivers have reached out to Teamsters Local 986 for guidance and support in forming an association for app-based commercial drivers, including all drivers who utilize the Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar technology platforms.

"We are pleased to assist in what we believe will be a strong movement," said Ron Seamans Jr., business agent at Teamsters Local 986. "Although we are only in the initial stages of organization, we will have a presence at the upcoming demonstration."

Uber Technology recently advised its Uber Black and Uber SUV drivers that vehicle models under 2010 would be pulled from the platform, while only giving the drivers two weeks to purchase newer vehicles. Uber Technologies offered to let the older cars and SUVs function under the less-expensive UberX platform, but Uber drivers are concerned that the fuel-to-fare ratio makes such an option economically unfeasible. Drivers are frustrated that other Uber markets have given their drivers months to plan for the transition, not just two weeks.

Uber drivers also are attempting to raise awareness in support of legislation being considered in the California Legislature. AB 2293 would require transportation network companies, including UBER, Lyft and Sidecar, to purchase insurance for those vehicles from the moment the driver application is activated, continuing until it is turned off.

The only ride-sharing vehicles that currently have such insurance coverage are the Uber Black and Uber SUV lines, as required by California governing agencies and purchased by the drivers at their own expense. UberX vehicles are operating without such coverage because Uber Technologies has been able to exploit an ambiguity in the rules that fails to define when an Uber driver is "in service."

Supporters of the legislation argue that such "app-on to app-off" insurance coverage would best serve the public interest and would not pose a financial hardship to the company, which recently received an additional infusion of $1.5 billion in venture capital and is now valued at $18.2 billion.

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico including more than 1,000 workers at several Gannett owned media outlets. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and "Like" us on Facebook at

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