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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

How the Drivers Cooperative built a worker-owned alternative to Uber and Lyft

The promise of sharing profits is surely alluring, but how profitable can a rideshare company be, especially considering how many years Uber and Lyft operated in the red? To Forman, there’s a clear path to profitability, particularly if it doesn’t spend millions on legislation, like Uber and Lyft have. “If you’re not trying to bankroll an assault on workers rights in the United States, it turns out you save a lot of money,” he says. To break even, he says, they need to complete about 1,300 trips a day. In New York City, there are more than 400,000 rideshare trips daily. “We only need to claim a small sliver of the market to have a self-sustaining operation.”

Forman didn’t come to the idea of a cooperative from personal experience as a driver, though he’s heard firsthand from many. His background is in labor organizing. He helped organize unions for about 15 years, from the fast food industry to his own school, when he was a high school teacher in New York. From there he became a labor educator, working with the Independent Drivers Guild, a union that represents more than 80,000 for-hire vehicle drivers across the city (and receives some funding from Uber.)...

Unions often focus on the top line of pay, but in the rideshare industry, “that’s only half the battle,” Forman says. “Half of every dollar drivers make is eaten by vehicle expenses. If we’re looking to increase pay, it makes sense to focus on both sides of the problem.”

Read the rest at Fast Company



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