Driving his Mazda 3 through the streets of Salinas, Mark Gurley, a 54-year-old fond of Hawaiian shirts, watches his smartphone chirp as he is flagged by a customer through the Uber app. He picks up his customer then drives them to their destination. This is a pattern he follows, around 18 times a day, every day, for nearly 100 hours a week.
“I love Uber,” Gurley says enthusiastically. “It’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.”
His use of the word “job” is loaded. That word is at the center of a controversy with 240,000 Uber drivers in California and Massachusetts who filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, arguing they should be classified as employees rather than independent contractors, and should be entitled to recover mileage and expenses.
Uber came to a $100 million settlement with drivers last spring. That settlement was then rejected in August at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Uber drivers were directed to settle their claims through independent arbitration.