Uber receives warm welcome in Helena




From the Independent Record, James Dehaven reports that Uber started business in Helena, Montana.  James writes:

The company had to weather a few regulatory bumps before arriving in Montana — namely a months-long delay attributed to a Department of Labor and Industry investigation into what to call the company’s drivers.

 That agency, like a spate of regulatory bodies around the country, had questions about whether those workers ought to be classified as benefit-eligible Uber employees or merely independent contractors.

Gebhardt said the apparent standoff was “overplayed,” adding departmental concerns were amicably allayed via talks that resulted in an agreement not to force Uber drivers to submit an application seeking state recognition as an independent contractor.

A June letter from the department’s top attorney said the agency was “willing to consider rulemaking” to address such an exemption, but stopped short of saying it had agreed to grant drivers relief from the paperwork.

A spokesman said the department has “encouraged Uber to approach the 2017 Montana Legislature and address this status issue directly with lawmakers.”

Uber spokeswoman Taylor Patterson counted retirees, laid-off University of Montana faculty and spouses of active-duty military members among a broad swath of Montanans she said had expressed interest in joining the ride-sharing platform.

Those looking to sign up will need to pass a seven-year background check and provide proof of a valid driver’s license, personal insurance and vehicle registration. They also need to pony up for a 19-point vehicle inspection, though officials said the company will usually reimburse drivers for the cost of that checkup after they pick up their first ride.


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