In Historic Ruling, NLRB Says Tucson Taxi Drivers are Employees

In Historic Ruling, NLRB Says Tucson Taxi Drivers are Employees

Tucson, Arizona (October 28, 2015) – In a groundbreaking ruling, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Tucson, Arizona, has determined that more than 200 taxi drivers employed by AAA Transportation/Yellow Cab are employees and are therefore eligible for union representation.

The ruling is the first of its kind for taxi drivers, following a number of cases where taxi drivers were instead ruled to be independent contractors, and is in line with new analysis used in the FedEx Home Delivery, Inc. decision that found those drivers qualified as employees. The key clarification in that ruling was a consideration of whether the individual has an “actual entrepreneurial opportunity for loss or gain” when determining whether an individual is an independent contractor.  In both the Fed Ex and Tucson drivers’ cases, it was determined that the opportunities for loss or gain were not “real or feasible,” and therefore, they couldn’t be classified as independent contractors.

In his October 23 decision, the NLRB Regional Director Cornele A. Overstreet found that the employer, AAA Transportation/Yellow Cab, exerts significant control over the drivers in a number of ways, specifically controlling the majority of the business through its dispatch system – a system that the employer can modify at will and which directly affects the drivers’ income.

The case began more than two years ago when representatives of the Tucson Hacks Association (THA) petitioned the NLRB challenging its status as independent contractors.  At that time, the NLRB ruled against the THA.  After filing a Request for Review, which was granted by the NLRB, the drivers sought assistance from the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), AFL-CIO, which represents more than 4,000 taxi drivers in Las Vegas and San Diego.  “This group of drivers did as much as they could on their own,” said OPEIU International President Michael Goodwin.  “Within three months of turning to OPEIU, we’re pleased to see a favorable decision from the NLRB and are now preparing for an election.” 

The Regional Director has ordered an election, which is expected to take place before the end of the year.

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