Canadian Union of Foodora Workers
August 13, 2019 10:17 AM   Subscribe

In May, Foodora workers in Toronto launched a campaign to join the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, which could make them among the first gig economy workers to unionize in Canada. Foodora has pushed notifications to its workers reminding them to vote no. The vote ends today, but there may be a legal fight coming on whether the workers are classified as employees under Ontario law.
posted by clawsoon (10 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Twitter feed. "The voting is closed.... It might be a while before we hear the results. Stay tuned!"
posted by clawsoon at 10:23 AM on August 13, 2019

Fingers crossed for a result beneficial to their workers. This "we don't have any employees, just independent contractors" bullshit is bullshit. I don't use Uber or Foodora or any of these gig economy apps or companies because I don't want to support businesses which saddle their labour with all of the disadvantages of a job without any of the protections or advantages.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:03 AM on August 13, 2019 [5 favorites]

I saw that some of the Foodster flyposters had been torn down along College yesterday. I'm also pretty sure I saw an organized group of folks picking up all the Foodster flyers they could find in a fast food place near OCADu.

Foodora's worse-than zero-hours contract is just terrible.
posted by scruss at 11:21 AM on August 13, 2019

My message to all employers who claim that their workers "don't need a union": LET THEM VOTE. If they feel like their pay and benefits are fine as they are, they won't vote to unionize.

I've been in a situation where one group of people wished to unionize a position I was in, and I didn't think it was the best choice for us at that time. But I totally supported our right to VOTE on the matter and let the majority rule.

It should be up to the workers - in a confidential and free vote - to chose whether they feel like a union would improve their situation.

As for whether they are independent contractors: not so long as the company sets the rates and the rules. Independent contractors charge substantially more than employees per hour precisely because they are a business and have expenses above labour to cover, including taxes.
posted by jb at 11:27 AM on August 13, 2019 [5 favorites]

Ontario courts seem to be leaning in the right direction on worker rights, so hopefully they have a reasonable chance there:
First, the Court held that, if Uber drivers are ultimately found to be employees for the purposes of the Employment Standards Act, then the Arbitration Clause will be unenforceable because it is an illegal contracting out of minimum employment standards.


Second, the Court held that the Arbitration Clause is unconscionable, and therefore invalid.

The Court found the Arbitration Clause unconscionable largely because of the overwhelming power imbalance between Uber and its drivers.
posted by clawsoon at 11:34 AM on August 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

"...which is why we offer an inclusive WSIB (or provincial equivalent) package"

Blaaargh. No, you don't. This is something that's legislated at the provincial level. In Ontario, for example, it's mandated by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act. It isn't something you "offer."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:19 PM on August 13, 2019 [6 favorites]

I hope they win and it sets a big old precedent for all sorts of jobs that have been contracted out like this.
Foodora Canada declined an interview with Global News. Managing director David Albert mentioned in an emailed statement that it has an open-door policy, but said it’s not possible to address “every single complaint from thousands of couriers.”
Well good news if they certify Foodora, you'll only have to deal with a handful of union reps.
Hundreds of Uber drivers in Ontario and western Canada have signed up with the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW Canada).
I wonder if the Teamsters told the drivers to get lost.
Notably, Foodora's operation is unique from other food delivery applications like Uber Eats because it stipulates a minimum shift time where a courier must be on-call
So Foodora is dictating shifts, and compensation. I bet they are found to be employers.
posted by Mitheral at 7:11 PM on August 13, 2019 [4 favorites]

Managing director David Albert mentioned in an emailed statement that it has an open-door policy, but said it’s not possible to address “every single complaint from thousands of couriers.”
This reminds me of the above-the-API/below-the-API jobs distinction, where people working below the API never have a human manager taking care of their needs, only an algorithm that tells them what to do and rejects them if they don't.

Foodora and the rest of them have tried to replace managers with algorithms, and it seems that it's not working out. Not for the workers, anyway.
posted by clawsoon at 10:46 AM on August 14, 2019

Or, rather: They've been able to algorithmize the second-worst type of manager, the type who sees you only as a processing unit.

Algorithmizing the very worst and/or the halfway-decent managers - the ones who see you as human, whether they hate you or like you - is something we don't have the AI for yet.
posted by clawsoon at 11:41 AM on August 14, 2019

Kinda related...

A&W Tells Anti-Union Conference It Keeps a Secret ‘Watch List’ To Make Sure Workers Don’t Unionize

Nancy Wuttunee, Vice-President of A&W Canada’s department of “People Potential,” and Mike Atkinson, A&W’s regional VP for eastern Canada, explained their company keeps a “watch list” of franchises that are “high risk” for unionizing.

One thing that could put an A&W franchise on its “watch list,” Atkinson said, is if the “the neighbour next door” is a workplace where “most of the folks are unionized.”

“Maybe you’re on the watch list because you’re in a really high risk area,” Wuttnnee explained. “It’s not always about what you do, it might be where you are.”

“For example, we operate in some food courts where everyone else in that food court is unionized,” Wuttunnee said.

“Those restaurants are on the watch list but not because of the operator but because we want to stay really close: ‘How’s it going here? Do we know anything? Let’s pay attention’.”

“Toronto Airport is the best example,” Atkinson added. “We operate a very high volume restaurant in Toronto Airport, one of our highest volume restaurants in Canada, and its surrounded by union employees.”

“Close to 40,000 people work at Toronto Airport, associated with airlines, ground crew, baggage handlers, whatever — most of those folks are unionized.”


Similar concerns were echoed by lawyer Mike Sherrard of Sherrard Kuzz LLP, which describes itself as “one of Canada’s leading employment and labour law firms exclusively representing the interests of employers.”

Sherrard said of the union drive at Foodora: “If they pick off one of those, it’s like a watershed to the rest of the gig economy. It’s like a trucking company that’s unionized that provides trucking for ten different distribution channels, and all the sudden they’re linked to a unionized workforce.”

Pretty quick on the uptake there, Mr. Hutz.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:01 PM on August 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

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