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Fed-Up Uber Drivers Give Company Policies A One-Star Rating

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Uber's been facing some major opposition from taxi cab drivers, but now their own drivers are also criticizing them.

A large group of Uber drivers, their family members and teamsters gathered in front of the company's office in Santa Monica on Tuesday to protest what they called a "general lack of communication, arbitrary treatment and unfair business practices." They're also lobbying for state legislation that they say would protect their livelihoods.

The drivers who feel particularly aggrieved are UberSUV and UberBlack drivers, who typically use their own larger and higher-end vehicles and charge a premium rate to passengers. They made up the majority of the folks rallying on Tuesday, the L.A. Times reported.

All Uber drivers have to pay for their own insurance while they are working, but the protesters feel that the company's insurance policies are not fair across the board. The protesters told the Times that because UberSUV and UberBlack drivers have more luxury cars, they have to have insurance policies that cover them the entire time they're "on the clock" even when they don't have a passenger in their car. UberX drivers, who have less expensive and older cars, don't need coverage when they don't have passengers because of an insurance loophole.

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The Teamsters Local 986 union helped the Uber drivers organize the protest. Drivers are hoping to form a trade association—though Uber drivers can't unionize because they're considered "independent contractors."

Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend issued a statement dismissing the protest as an attempt by the teamsters to grow their ranks, "While Uber is focused on a great experience for riders and economic opportunity for drivers, the Teamsters Local 986 is focused on recruiting membership and filling their coffers."

They also railed against the rating system Uber uses for its drivers that relies on users to rate them on a five-star system. Lotfi Benyedder, who has driven for Uber for three years told KPCC:

The [rating] system in unfair. A driver was given one star and was deactivated from the system for five days, the guy has kids to feed, has family, has bills and he was not able to drive because a difficult client gave him one star. He sent several emails to Uber and they did not respond until after six days and then they wanted him to take a class, when it was not even his fault. This rating system needs to stop. No more rating! If the client wants to give feedback they can always send an email and have a fair process of deactivation and hear what the other side has to say.

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Uber drivers and teamsters are focused on legislation that they said would address some of their grievances. They're trying to bring awareness to two bills they want passed: one would require ridesharing companies to carry a commercial liability insurance policy for all their drivers around the clock instead of having each driver have their own individual insurance policies. The other bill would require ride-sharing companies to get a permit to operate and follow the same regulations as taxi cab companies, including mandatory drug tests and background checks for drivers, and also carry commercial insurance policies for the drivers.