Federal labor board’s lawyer calls Uber drivers contractors

The federal labor board’s top lawyer said Tuesday that Uber drivers should be classified as contractors, meaning they should not be eligible to the full range of benefits offered to full-time employees.

The National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) Office of the General Counsel said in an advice memo released Tuesday that the flexibility and control given to Uber drivers means they work with “entrepreneurial freedom consistent with independent-contractor status.”

“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,” reads the memo, which was issued last month.

The memo signals the NLRB will side with so-called gig economy companies, like Uber and Lyft, who insist that their workers should be classified as contractors rather than full-time employees.

Uber drivers and other gig economy workers have organized and rallied against this classification, saying it precludes them from fair labor practices such as minimum wage protections, the ability to form or join a union, and the full range of benefits given to employees.

Catherine Ruckelshaus, general counsel for the National Employment Law Project, told The Hill that the decision was “to be expected” from the Trump administration, which has sided largely with businesses across a range of issues.

“Workers are getting the message ‘don’t go to the U.S. government’ if they need any kind of help with their job,” Ruckelshaus said.