GOOD READING: @camilacore on the political economy of Uber in Toronto

Today, taxi drivers are demonstrating in Toronto over the city dragging its heels on regulating Uber. Cabbies have also let the politicians at Queen’s Park know how they feel. Ontario also has not moved to regulate Uber.

The following post has been re-posted from @camilacore‘s Facebook page with her permission.


 

“The cabbies are doing themselves no favour with this strike. They need to improve their image.”

This is the same line we repeatedly about unionized workers who exercise their right to collectively bargain, strike, and march on picket lines – year after year.

Don’t celebrate your supposed adaptation to neoliberalism.. it’s nothing to be proud of. The fact that you—as a worker—have no backbone and have conceded the very last of our rights, quality jobs and quality public services to a market that redistributes wealth from the bottom tiers to the wealthiest companies and individuals is nothing to brag about. That’s not progress or ‘progressiveness’, that’s not technological advancement, and it’s only forward-thinking in that you help accelerate a race to the bottom.

It’s mega bizarre that right-wing free market groupies (consumers who drink the kool-aid and are now pouring it down your throat) can have so much influence over us that they’re able to convince us that new shit is always better shit—even when new shit amounts to concessions on democratic accountability, standard employment, health and safety, decent living wages, etc and shifts risk from corporations to workers now operating under weakened labour protections. Some people get off on precarious non-standard employment relationships that don’t include benefits, I hella don’t.

These are not simple choices we’re dealing with, quite the opposite. Capitalism forces us to make the hardest decisions and constantly pits workers against other workers, and it’s currently forcing poor residents living in the suburbs and other areas of the GTA, which are underserved by public transit, to make a decision on whether or not to use seemingly inexpensive and attractive Uber services in a time when our cost of living is rising and our employment is the most precarious.

I can’t sit here from my most-privileged vantage point and tell my associates where to put their money or how to survive off our meager salaries, but I am telling you that our decision to welcome Uber into our city, as is, will have a profound impact on our city’s economy and hundreds of jobs currently occupied by brown and black men, many of whom are immigrant men, many of whom belong to religious minority groups, and many of whom are on multiple fronts discriminated against in the Canadian economy and who are vastly over qualified for their line of work. Drivers whose education, experience, and credentials have been denied by the Canadian state and who often work multiple jobs, or whose racialized wives have picked up the slack since immigrating to Canada. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for what’s at stake here. All of these issues must be addressed, though it’s not single-handedly the fault of Uber (a mere player among many that gets to stroll in and shit on Canadian workers) that we’re placed in this predicament, but I do ask that we be more critical when discussing the impacts of this general shift and make an effort to understand the issues placed before us from a labour standpoint.

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