The “Uber Files” leak reveals the power of the company’s multimillion-dollar lobbying effort — and how it worked with governments around the world to undercut workers’ rights.
by Paris Marx
Part 4 - Uber Must Be Stopped
Counter to what Uber wants the public to believe, it has not changed. It’s still aggressively committed to controlling how people get around and decimating the rights of workers in the process — both for the benefit of its shareholders and any company trying to pass off the fiction that using an app should allow it to evade regulations that have traditionally governed the industry in which it operates. But winning those battles is key to Uber’s next stage.
After more than a decade of bleeding cash, including more than $20 billion since 2015 alone, the easy money may finally be drying up as interest rates are seriously hiked for the first time since the Great Recession. During the pandemic, Uber shed its big bets on things like autonomous vehicles and flying cars that it once promised were the future of mobility. Instead, we began to see what having to be financially sustainable will mean for the service Uber provides: higher prices and longer wait times to such a degree that taxis are looking appealing again.
At the same moment as Uber’s service deteriorates and the subsidy that helped it decimate taxis evaporates, the company may finally be trying to take over its biggest competitor. Uber signed a deal to list New York City taxis on its app in March, followed by similar deals in San Francisco and Italy. This development not only allows Uber to control the customer relationship, seize the trip data, and increase its supply of workers, but it could subject taxis to Uber’s rules after effectively breaking the long-standing regulatory framework. That will mean algorithmic management for drivers and surge pricing for riders.
The Uber Files add to our understanding of the evil deeds that made Uber what it is today, and how aspects of that playbook continue to drive its global war against workers. As the company’s business model seems set to undergo a fundamental shift, we have an opportunity to correct a mistake made years ago. Uber’s campaign to remake our transport system to serve its commercial imperatives regardless of the consequences should end here. We can do much better.