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Here's how the Uber appeals panel and driver association will work

Uber has agreed to help fund the driver association it will set up as part of the settlement.

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Last night, Uber announced that it had come to an agreement to settle a pair of driver misclassification lawsuits that posed a threat to the company’s existing business model. If this agreement is accepted by a judge, Uber will still be able to classify and thus treat its drivers as independent contractors, but it has also agreed to make a number of concessions.

The most significant concession was Uber’s agreement to help facilitate the formation of two driver-based groups: An appeals panel and a union-like driver association. But to be clear, they’re not exactly unions, but union-like, which we’ll explain.

The specific details on how either group will work have yet to be determined, but filings submitted by the plaintiffs’ attorney, Shannon Liss-Riordan, indicate a number of general guidelines for the groups.

For the driver association, Uber has agreed to provide an unspecified amount of funding to the group to cover the costs of incidental expenses like phones, meeting spaces, etc.

As Liss-Riordan indicated in a statement provided to Re/code last night, the driver association will act in the place of a union but will not be recognized as one and is not a vehicle through which drivers can try to collectively bargain with Uber.

Instead, Uber has agreed to meet quarterly with leaders elected by the driver associations in Massachusetts and California “on a good-faith basis” to discuss issues and how to solve them. Basically, they can discuss “issues” like enabling in-app tipping, but they can’t negotiate for better pay.

As Liss-Riordan indicates in the filing: “The creation of the Driver’s Association will allow drivers to continue to work towards additional non-monetary programmatic relief for drivers in California and Massachusetts by polling their fellow drivers to create an agenda for further change and meeting regularly with Uber management to engage in good faith discussions to address issues of concern to drivers.”

As for deactivations, the filing states that Uber will institute a formal appeals process and implement a panel of “highly rated drivers” who will recommend whether a driver should be reactivated. Given the language of the declaration, it’s clear Uber will have the final say in the matter.

The appeals process is, however, not open to drivers who have been deactivated because of “low star ratings, criminal activity, physical altercation, or sexual misconduct.”

While the decision to scale driver associations beyond Massachusetts and California is contingent on the success of the association in those states — a success that has yet to be defined — the filing indicates Uber will be setting up driver appeals panels in major cities.

In fact, Uber has already begun experimenting with a panel of this nature in Seattle, which just this week had its first meeting.

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