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Uber drivers are contractors, not employees, U.S. labor board says

No federal protections for unionizing

Drivers of ride-hailing company Uber Technologies are independent contractors and not its employees, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board said in a memo. Essentially, it means Uber drivers don't have federal protections for forming unions or fighting unfair labor practices.

"Drivers' virtually complete control of their cars, work schedules, and log-in locations, together with their freedom to work for competitors of Uber, provided them with significant entrepreneurial opportunity," according to the memo dated April 16. It continues, "On any given day, at any free moment, drivers could decide how best to serve their economic objectives: by fulfilling ride requests through the App, working for a competing ride-share service, or pursuing a different venture altogether."

"Applying the common-law agency test, we conclude that UberX and UberBLACK drivers were independent contractors." That legal test considers the degree to which the hiring party has control over production.

Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but an Uber spokesperson told Bloomberg Law, "We are focused on improving the quality and security of independent work, while preserving the flexibility drivers and couriers tell us they value."

Uber doesn't provide traditional health benefits or paid time off. It does, however, offer injury protection during rides, as well as the opportunity for qualified drivers to receive full tuition coverage for Arizona State University's online education program, which is gift-able to family members.

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