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Foodora workers are dependent contractors: OLRB ruling

Ruling means workers for app-based delivery service have right to unionize, says CUPW


February 25, 2020
By Talent Canada Staff

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A ruling by the Ontario Labour Relations Board could have a big impact on workers in the gig economy — at least according to the union fighting to represent Foodora workers.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and Foodsters United argued that workers at Foodora — an app-based delivery service similar to Uber Eats or Skip the Dishes — are dependent contractors. That means they have the legal right to organize and certify a union, according to CUPW. Foodora, like most gig economy businesses, employs these workers as independent contractors.

“This decision shows that the tide is turning towards justice for thousands of gig workers in Ontario and soon these workers will have the right to their union,” said Jan Simpson, CUPW national president. “CUPW is proud to be part of challenging the big app-based employers, and reshaping the future of work in favour of workers’ rights, safety, and respect.”

In a press release issued by CUPW, Ryan White — a lawyer with Cavalluzzo LLP — said the ruling sets a “historic precedent” for vicarious workers.

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“It vindicates the union, which has known all along that Foodora controls the way that couriers work too much for them to be classified independent contractors,” said White.

CUPW said the ruling clears a significant hurdle on the past toward bargaining agent certification.

“The case has been keenly watched by many gig workers and unions, bringing app-based working conditions into the spotlight, and prompting many calls for better regulation and recognition of the workers’ issues and their rights,” the union said.

“This decision from the OLRB shows what we have been saying as workers – we are workers, plain and simple, and we have the right to have a union to gain the respect and rights that we deserve,” said Ivan Ostos, Foodora courier. “We’ve put a lot of work into this campaign because we know how much is on the line. This victory belongs not just to us, but to many gig workers who have dangerous and precarious conditions, who lack security, who have no voice in their working conditions — who need a union. It’s a rapidly growing share of the workforce.”

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), which is organizing Uber Black drivers, congratulated Foodsters and CUPW on the ruling.

“This win is a big precedent for anyone in the gig economy who worries about their health, safety, and security. Fighting misclassification has become a viable avenue to unionization, in some very unstable and dangerous workplaces, and for many very precarious workers,” it said in a statement published by CUPW.