The Houston Limo Service News
TORRANCE, Calif. — As limousine industry leaders lobby across Capitol Hill April 27, they circulate with the confidence of a three-pronged approach in pursuing competitive fairness with Transportation Network Companies (TNCs).
In an interview at LCT offices before heading to Washington D.C for the annual National Limousine Association's Day on the Hill lobbying event, NLA President Gary Buffo outlined how the group has worked hard during the last year to align its public relations, legislative lobbying, and appeals to enforce labor laws on employees versus independent contractors. The NLA also supports class-action labor lawsuits filed by Uber drivers contending they are employees.
The labor angle will be a key focus of this week’s Day on the Hill, where teams of NLA and state association leaders will talk with Congressional representatives and their staff about enforcing labor laws against TNCs already on the books, Buffo said. “Our task is really simple. It’s for them to contact the Department of Labor and mandate they enforce labor laws, whether it's in California, or on a regional or federal basis. If we can get it done on a federal basis, then the states will have to comply. We have a better chance of the states complying if we get federal DOL to enforce the laws.”
The way Uber controls drivers and passengers clearly falls into the realm of employment, and the drivers should be legally treated and categorized as employees, Buffo said. “They are in control of everything. There’s no way drivers should be classified as contractors. If they must abide by the laws, then their business model certainly will have to change.”
Another consequence of so many TNC drivers being classified as independent contractors is the loss of substantial tax revenue, Buffo pointed out. In all likelihood, many 1099 drivers do not file taxes, and the IRS lacks the manpower to track it all, given the thousands of TNC drivers. If the drivers were employees, they would be on payrolls subject to tax withholding.
“If you look at how many drivers that just Uber and Lyft claim they have, and if you calculate how many tax dollars the states and federal government are losing from employment taxes, and social security, it’s in the billions of dollars now,” Buffo said.
That may motivate legislators to stanch those losses through fair application of labor laws. Conversely, the losses could also be passed on to other businesses in the form of higher taxes if TNCs continue to grow with the independent contractor model, he warned.
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