Monthly Archives: December 2015

Willie Nelson & Family New Year with Kacey Musgraves

Willie-Nelson in Austin

Willie-Nelson in Austin

Austin’s hometown musician, Willie Nelson, returns to Austin City Limits Live to ring in the new year in style with three nights featuring special guests Kacey Musgraves and Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real.

The concert on New Year’s Eve, hosted by Andy Langer, will also feature appearances by Father Time Texas and Baby New Year.

EVENT DETAILS

WHEN

12.30.15 | 7:30 pm
12.31.15 | 7:30 pm

WHERE

310 Willie Nelson Blvd.
Austin, TX 78701

PHONE

TICKET INFO

$99-$157

After years of trying to catch up to competitors Uber and Lyft, lesser-known ride-hailing startup Sidecar is ceasing operations.

Another taxi drama

Another taxi drama

The company will stop offering all rides and deliveries on December 31, 2015 at 2 pm PT. Sidecar founder and CEO Sunil Paul announced the decision in a Medium post on Tuesday.

Sidecar was an early competitor in the ride-hailing app world. Launched in 2012, it raised $35 million in funding from major venture capital firms, including Virgin’s Richard Branson.

It branched out to a number of U.S. cities, but never managed to find the same loyal following, or funding, as Uber and Lyft. Uber has become the most valuable private company in the world.

Sidecar has claimed it invented the concept of ride-sharing, in which a smartphone app is used to connect people with drivers using their personal cars. Though Uber existed first, it only worked with limos at first.

“We are the innovation leader in ridesharing despite a significant capital disadvantage, continually rolling out new products that set the bar for others to follow,” said Paul in the post.

The struggling company was dabbling in other business models to help drum up business. Starting in 2014, Sidecar started doing same day deliveries for e-commerce companies like EAT24. Uber launched its own delivery business in April 2015.

In May, Sidecar announced it was teaming up with medical-marijuana delivery startup Meadow to handle its same-day deliveries in the Bay Area. The drivers needed to be medical marijuana patients themselves and members of the dispensary sending out the packages.

The company is not disappearing completely. The remaining team will “work on strategic alternatives and lay the groundwork for the next big thing,” said Paul.

Seattle is first city in nation to give Uber, other contract drivers ability to unionize


seattle Taxi Vs Uber

seattle Taxi Vs Uber


The Seattle City Council voted unanimously Monday to give taxi, for-hire and Uber drivers the ability to unionize.

Mayor Ed Murray won’t sign the ordinance, but his signature is not needed for the bill to become law, he said.

The National Labor Relations Act gives employees the right to collective bargaining. But drivers for taxi, for-hire and app-dispatch companies like Uber and Lyft are categorized as independent contractors, rather than employees, so those federal protections don’t apply to them.

Seattle is the first city in the U.S. to establish a framework for contract drivers to organize and to bargain for agreements on issues such as pay and working conditions.

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Backers of the groundbreaking bill, including drivers, broke into applause after the vote in the council’s crowded chambers and chanted, “When we fight, we win!”

Takele Gobena, a 26-year-old Uber driver and a leader among those pushing for unionization, called Monday’s vote a victory. He was temporarily kicked off the app in August just a few hours after taking part in a news conference with Councilmember Mike O’Brien, the bill’s sponsor.

“I’m so excited. I’m so happy,” said Gobena, of SeaTac. “This is a big change for us.”

Uber and Lyft opposed the ordinance and argued O’Brien’s proposal violates federal labor and anti-trust laws, meaning the city likely will be sued.

“Uber is creating new opportunities for many people to earn a better living on their own time and their own terms,” the company said in a statement Monday.

Murray sent council members a letter before their vote expressing reservations about the bill. He’s worried about costs related to managing the bargaining process and defending the ordinance in court, he said.

But O’Brien struck a triumphant note.

“This bill was only introduced out of necessity after witnessing how little power drivers themselves had in working for a living wage,” he said, adding, “I am proud Seattle is continuing to lead the nation in advancing labor standards for our workers.”

Under the ordinance, a taxi, for-hire or app-based vehicle-dispatch company will be required to provide the city with a list of its Seattle drivers. Then a nonprofit organization — most likely a union — will use the list to contact the drivers.

The nonprofit organization will need to gain the support of a majority of a company’s drivers to be designated by the city as their bargaining representative.

The ordinance will require the company to hammer out an agreement with the representative organization. The city will enforce the ordinance’s requirements through penalties such as fines but not by revoking a company’s license to operate.

The backdrop for the council’s vote is a nationwide conversation about what role governments should play in the country’s growing app-powered gig economy.

Companies like Uber and Lyft for rides, TaskRabbit for odd jobs and GrubHub for food delivery are attracting workers by offering more flexibility than conventional jobs.

But labor activists and others are worried about apps making it easier for companies to contract with independent workers and avoid paying minimum wages and benefits.

Drivers from several cities, including Seattle, are suing Uber for categorizing them as independent contractors, and politicians in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere are talking about whether a new benefits system or new worker category might be needed.

The lawsuits will focus on whether Uber controls drivers by setting fares and deciding who can work or whether drivers are in charge by setting their own schedules.

O’Brien’s proposal grew out of organizing by taxi, Uber and Lyft drivers in Seattle and from advocacy by Teamsters Local 117. Some drivers backing the bill have said that, after expenses, they make far less than the city’s minimum wage driving for Uber and Lyft. Other drivers have said they like the way the industry operates now.

Uber ramped up its engagement in Seattle before Monday’ vote. David Plouffe, a former political strategist for President Obama now serving as Uber’s chief adviser, visited Seattle earlier this month to promote the company and criticize the ordinance.

The company recently chose the city for its launch of devices on some vehicle windshields that light up to help drivers connect with waiting riders. Last week, it began offering a new service in Seattle called UberHop; vehicles pick up riders at set spots along set routes. The company has been advertising heavily in local media, as well.

The council’s finance committee approved the ordinance in October but O’Brien’s delayed the final vote so lawyers for the city could work to make it more legally sound.

Uber has sued King County and Seattle law firm Keller Rohrback in an attempt to block the county from releasing, under a public-records request by the firm, the number of licensed drivers the company has here. In an interview during his visit to the city, Plouffe told The Seattle Times that Uber has more than 10,000 drivers in the city.

Dan Clark, 64, a part-time Uber driver from Auburn, is against O’Brien ordinance because “it just seems wrong to have a union come in and dictate everything,” he said.

Uber and Lyft could raise fares in Seattle. But Gobena, who said he drives 55 hours a week in addition to attending college, said he believes passengers are on his side.

“The riders, they see how much we’re paid … They feel so bad,” the pro-union driver said. “We are just asking Uber to pay us a living wage. Seattleites want that.”

Daniel Beekman: 206-464-2164 or dbeekman@seattletimes.com. Twitter @DBeekman