At Uber’s May 10 meeting of shareholders, the Teamsters will demand that the company fully disclose the funds and organizations it uses to lobby to protect its controversial and unprofitable business model. Aptly described in the financial press as a form of ‘regulatory arbitrage,’ Uber’s business model is premised on exploiting gaps in employment and taxi regulation around the world.
The demand, in the form of a shareholder proposal, comes as CEO Dara Khosrowsha has declared his company will be even more vocal in advocating for laws like ‘Prop 22’ around the country. Last November, Uber was among several so-called gig-economy companies that spent over $200 million in support of Prop 22, a California ballot initiative that stripped drivers of newly won employment rights.
In a letter to Uber investors, General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall warns specifically of the risks to workers and investors from Uber’s funding of 501c(4), or social welfare groups — a form of “Dark Money” — which can entail corporate-funded advocacy posing as grassroots or community-led initiatives. Already, such groups are popping across the country in defense of a business model that is increasingly under scrutiny from politicians and regulators.