Does Uber Want Drivers to Work Full-Time?

Uber's chief advisor thinks so. Maybe.


David Plouffe, Uber’s chief advisor, believes that Uber is a very good program for drivers — just ignore the $100 million settlement in California and the high level of discontent among drivers.

“Our goal is whether you do it for 40 hours a week for four years, or you do it for four hours a week for four months, we want it to be a good opportunity for you,” Plouffe said today at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference.

But time and again in the same conversation, Plouffe supported the argument that Uber is ideal for supplemental income in true gig economy style, not for full-time work. After all, he stated, 60 percent of Uber drivers nationally drive under 10 hours a week. Even if they did drive full-time hours, they are contractors, not employees. That’s just the way that ride-sharing has to work.

“If you ask somebody to go through eight or nine hoops, take time off work, it’s basically got to be a career for them,” Plouffe said. “And that’s not ride-sharing.”

Apparently, someone driving 40 hours a week for four years is not the ideal ride-share driver.

David Plouffe is uber confident Uber can work for any driver.


Today, Uber announced an agreement with the International Association of Machinists to create the Independent Drivers Guild in New York City. Drivers are still independent contractors (it’s right there in the name), but they will have a bit of negotiating power.

Plouffe told The New York Times that Uber isn’t going to extend the guild to other areas. Part of the reason is that more Uber drivers in New York City drive full-time or close to full-time.

On stage at TechCrunch, Plouffe said that the guild will be able to talk with Uber management once a month about things like driver deactivation, benefits, and paid time off — all of which fall more in the range of what would be offered to full-time employees. Still, the gig economy is optimized for part-time work.

“In sharing economies of scale, a lot of people are able to piece together an income that puts them in a more secure situation,” Plouffe said.

Uber wants to be the catch-all for anyone who wants to drive for them, but the same model doesn’t work for both part-time and full-time drivers. Uber, however, wants to continue to straddle both sides.