The National Labor Relations Board, handing an important victory to Uber, has concluded that the company’s drivers are contractors, not employees.
The move, outlined by the board’s general counsel in a memorandum released Tuesday, deals a blow to drivers’ efforts to band together to demand higher pay and better working conditions from Uber and its main rival in the ride-hailing business, Lyft. It is the first major policy move the board has made concerning the so-called gig economy under President Trump.
Contractors lack the protection given to employees under federal law — and enforced by the labor board — for unionizing and other collective activity, such as protesting the policies of employers. As a practical matter, the conclusion makes it extremely difficult for Uber drivers to form a union.
The board’s general counsel, Peter B. Robb, who was appointed by Mr. Trump, does not have purview over other laws applying to employees, such as minimum wage and overtime protections.