The Canadian Union of Postal Workers filed an unfair labor practice complaint at the Ontario Labour Relations Board against Uber alleging it violated labor laws that prohibit an employer from favoring one union over another. The company reached an agreement in January with the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) that more than 100,000 drivers and delivery couriers in Canada would receive union representation in resolving workplace disputes. Under the agreement, the drivers continue as independent contractors.
Uber’s Agreement with the UFCW
Early this year, Uber notified its workers across Canada to use UFCW union representatives when disputing certain work-related issues, such as account deactivation, without paying union dues. The arrangement is less than a traditional collective bargaining arrangement but maintains both worker and Uber flexibility that comes with an independent contractor arrangement. The agreement doesn’t grant the union power to negotiate on salaries or benefits.
It is not the first time Uber has engaged unions in representing its drivers. The company also made a similar arrangement with Australia's Transport Workers' Union in June, agreeing to four principles based on setting a minimum wage, dispute resolution mechanisms, voices for workers and the enforcement of those standards.
The unions in each country contend the company’s attempts in Canada and Australia, to give its workers more rights and protection, lacks a proper union election process and an appropriate government oversight system.
CUPW claims that Uber provided UFCW with a list of contact information of drivers and couriers on the platform but denied CUPW’s request of access to the same information. It argues that Ontario’s Labour Relations Act clearly states that an employer cannot give preferential treatment to one union over others when multiple unions are active in organizing the employer’s workers.
If the Court supports CUPW in this case, it’s possible that the agreement between UFCW and Uber will be declared null and void.