If you drive for Uber, you may be getting a new perk in the mail this week. No, it’s not a notice about a new increase in fare payouts or information about how to sign up for health benefits through the company. But it should make for some solid bathroom reading.
Momentum is a new print magazine being published by Uber and sent out to the ridesharing company’s army of 150,000 drivers, according to Business Insider. The quarterly magazine will reportedly focus pretty specifically on driving for Uber and related issues.
It remains to be seen whether the magazine will touch on some of the more controversial topics related to ridesharing and being a driver for Uber specifically–though it seems unlikely. As the so-called sharing economy has exploded, so too have the legal ambiguities and uncomfortable realities of this more distributed, app-fueled brand of capitalism.
In addition to legal challenges to its operation in many markets, Uber has been criticized by many of its drivers about everything from fare cuts and lack of employee benefits to the ambiguity of its tipping policy and insufficient driver safety. Uber’s treatment of its drivers has resulted in lawsuits, efforts to unionize and, on more than one occasion, protests in which drivers walked off the job and demonstrated outside Uber’s headquarters.
Despite these rumblings, Uber’s growth is astronomical. And there’s research to suggest that the overall picture for drivers isn’t quite as dismal as the activist backlash suggests. One recent survey found 78% of Uber drivers to be satisfied with their experience, although its worth noting that the Princeton economist leading that research also happened to be Uber’s head of policy research.
As it grows and tries to put out the various legal fires ignited along the way, Uber hasn’t done much to assuage the specific concerns of disgruntled members of its workforce. Its new magazine represents a (very) modest attempt at better catering to its drivers’ needs, though it won’t have nearly the same weight as an overhaul of its rating system or a bump in pay.
From the looks of the first issue’s cover, Momentum is geared heavily toward shining a savory spotlight on established “partners” (Uber’s parlance for “drivers”) and doling out tips on how to make the most of the Uber experience. The magazine, which launches this week in New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Ohio, and Oklahoma, will even feature localized content like listing of major events that might make for a night of lucrative Uber-driving.