Profile of People's Ride: a co-operative, driver-owned alternative to Uber

People's Ride is a co-op ride-hailing company in Grand Rapids, Michigan: drivers own the service in common and collectively decide how to spend its profits (for example, on deploying an app to go with its website); for-profit competitors like Uber take 30% commissions from their drivers and deliver them to investors, while People's Ride spends all the revenue paying drivers and improving the service.

People's Ride bootstrapped itself with the personal funds of founder Matthew Bair and with a small Gofundme campaign. It was able to take advantage of special insurance packages created for Uber and Lyft drivers, though unlike those services, it doesn't extend insurance to drivers (drivers pay for their own, though they're contemplating shifting this expense to the business). Drivers earn 55% more than they would driving for Uber or Lyft.

I substitute teach in inner city schools. When talking about People's Ride, I try to explain the business in a way that will relate to the students' real-life experiences. I try to explain what it would look like if Uber was organized in a non-capitalist way. Control over profits. I call this the “secret to infinite wealth," which always grabs their attention. I ask: what would you do with a million dollars? "By a new pair of Beats headphones," one student says. Another high school student says: “I would give the money to my Mom so she didn’t have to work two jobs and had time to take me to Cedar Point.”

Uber is a multi-billion dollar company. Imagine what would happen if that money stayed with the drivers. How would that much money help the workers, their family, friends and community? This is a job where employees bring most of their own capital, too: the car, insurance, customer service, driving, promotions and referrals, and in our case, developing the People's Ride app software.

COOP PROFILE: PEOPLE'S RIDE [Democracy at Work]

(via Naked Capitalism)