Some Chicago alderman held a news conference this afternoon in support of cab drivers who are being slammed by the emergence of Uber.
Both Uber and cabs provide similar service, but the city treats them differently. Cabbies are far more regulated.
The Uber company is favored by the city’s lack of regulations governing its operation. Not that Uber drivers are getting rich. But somebody is.
Uber is part of the new gig economy. It really isn’t that new. Just calling it the gig economy is new. It is a job with no benefits, no regular salary, no union, no contract. A gig? Get it. As in, “Hey, man. I’m between gigs.”
That might be okay if you’re a young guy in a rock and roll band. Not if you’re trying to raise a family.
I’m sure that the reason that Chicago is so friendly to the gig economy and Uber has nothing at all to do with the fact that Rahm’s brother Ari is heavily invested in Uber.
I found myself at the press conference on the second floor of City Hall this morning because I rode my bike downtown to attend an earlier press conference that was called by one of our Logan Square community organizations to oppose the Mayor’s current proposal for a $600 million property tax hike.
This is me holding up my sign “Tax the Rich” at the first press conference.
But I’m with the cabbies. I was one. I was a definite part of the gig economy then even though nobody called it that. So I stayed a few moments for that press conference before I rode my bike the four miles back to Logan Square.
For three years when I was going back to college to get my teacher certification I hacked.
If that was a regulated industry, then Uber is really unregulated.
I did have to get a chauffeurs’ license from the city. And then I went to work for a company called American United which owned a bunch of medallions. This city offers a very limited number of medallions so they cost a fortune and are owned mostly by big companies like Yellow. And some smaller ones like American United.
They would sublet me the cab for 12 hours. Between buying my own gas and the cost of the lease, the combination of which is what they called “the nut”, it would be six to eight hours before I was making any money.
Plenty of days I didn’t make my nut at all.
I’m telling you. It’s tough out there in the gig economy.