It’s a debate which has spread across North America and Europe and has now arrived in the Windsor area…Uber.
By Dave Hall
It pits area taxi drivers who work for many local companies, against private individuals who have aligned themselves with Uber, a U.S. based company which bills itself as a ridesharing service exempt from municipal bylaws and rules in what is a heavily-regulated industry.
Susie Heath, a spokeswoman for Uber Canada, says her company has created a new business model that is distinct from traditional taxi services.
But John Toth, First Vice-President of Unifor Local 195 which represents drivers who work for Vets Cab, says there is nothing distinct about a service which picks up fares generated from a central dispatch service and charges them a fee for a ride.
I’ve learned over the years that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck. Bylaws covering the taxi industry in Windsor run to about 67 pages and from my perspective, Uber is currently not following any of them. – John Toth, First Vice-President of Unifor Local 195
Uber is also facing a class action lawsuit filed last year in Ontario Superior Court by Windsor law firm Sutts Strosberg LLP.
“The suit has been launched theoretically on behalf of everyone involved in the transportation industry in Ontario including drivers, dispatchers, plateholders, limo drivers, fleet owners and brokers,” states lawyer Jay Strosberg. “There is no other case like this against Uber anywhere. Our suit alleges a conspiracy to undercut taxi fares and thus everyone involved has suffered financial harm. In order to prove conspiracy, we have to show there has been an illegal act.”
Strosberg continues, “And by ignoring municipal bylaws, Uber has, in effect, contravened both the Highway Traffic Act and the Provincial Offences Act. You simply can’t have people being undercut pricewise by someone who is acting illegally. If I drove down Ouellette Avenue, stopped to pick a guy up and charged him $20 for a ride to the airport, that’s illegal and what Uber is doing is no different.”
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