Uber called its recent union deal ‘historic.’ A new complaint alleges it was actually against the law.
A major tech company said unionizing the company was not part of its strategy when it entered into a five-year contract with the United Auto Workers nearly a year ago to negotiate an initial new pay agreement before the existing contract expired in February.
At the time, the union said no contract talks had started, but did not address whether it would be a mandatory subject of the negotiations.
Uber announced the decision Monday to join the United Auto Workers in a $2.7 million settlement that includes back pay for nearly 700 workers. The announcement came just hours after The New York Times reported the settlement and the union’s decision to pursue the deal.
The union, a labor organization representing employees of more than 1,400 companies, was seeking $14.5 million in back pay and $2 million for expenses under an existing contract with the company.
Uber had said it needed time to find an agreement that would allow it to have a voice in the talks, which began early this year as a test and will continue after its existing contract expires next month. Under the arrangement, the union gave Uber a year to negotiate a new deal with a new starting point and a raise in pay.
“Today’s news confirms we made the right choice for our drivers, and for the future of our company,” said company spokesman Logan Gibby in the Uber media release.
Uber said the new agreement was fair to drivers, who make about $1,200 a week, and to employees, who make between $63,000 and $77,000 a year.
The announcement came as reports were surfacing Monday that the U.S. Department of Labor is investigating whether Uber violated labor laws that are aimed at ensuring drivers are fairly treated.
The company had been in talks with the National Labor Relations Board and the Justice Department over collective bargaining issues when it announced the deal, which was one of the last major labor deals signed in the tech industry and one of the most important deals in the history of the U.S.
The company said it will post a notice to drivers who agree to be represented by the union at the bargaining table, but they’re not required to join the union to get a benefit, including better benefits and job protections.
Uber said it will negotiate over driver pay, starting