Challenging the Status Quo

Challenging the Status Quo

While Some Write Letters and Others Fight Regulations, HireAHelper Keeps Rolling

One situation involves corporate movers in New York City, the other involves guys in pickups moving furniture in Austin, Texas. One is a product of the traditional stance of the labor unions, the other is a child of the shared-economy and a smartphone app. One issue is political, the other governmental.

In both cases, the entrenched are losing business to the newcomers.

Bucking for Business in the Big Apple

In New York, Teamsters Local 814 is pushing “to discourage businesses from hiring nonunion or pseudo-union commercial movers.” In this article published by Crain’s New York Business magazine they complain that groups from these nonunion or pseudo-union organizations have “the veneer of traditional unions but not the pay and benefits packages that union members typically enjoy.”

Translation: “We don’t want these guys undercutting us.”

They go on to say that “the Teamsters local is the only commercial moving union recognized by the AFL-CIO, the Greater New York Building and Construction Trades Council and the Central Labor Council.”

Response: “…And?…”

In an effort to spread their good word they sent out a letter signed by a neat group of elected officials who, coincidentally, receive endorsements and unspecified campaign ‘support’ from the union. In this letter the Teamsters try to create a perceptive link between affiliation with labor organizations like the AFL-CIO and trustworthiness in a moving company.

In other words, they would like their endangered customer base to believe that a lack of affiliation equals a lack of quality and security.

Unfortunately, some companies out there are proving their point.

But even if affiliation with these labor organizations can be taken as proof of quality and trust, a lack of affiliation does not mean that mover is unable to provide the same level of service. And while traditional union membership guarantees certain pay and benefits to workers, non-members are not necessarily lacking in these areas – though it might be fair to say these nonunion companies can undercut the unions because they are free from their regulatory shackles.

In any case, it appears the Teamsters and their pals want to eradicate anyone who isn’t in their club.

We liken ourselves to the nonunion guys challenging the status quo by providing a service at a more affordable rate than the big guys. At the same time we are absolutely committed to upholding a high level of quality and security, which is why only paying customers can leave real reviews and why we have an in-house operations team who monitors the quality of the marketplace. While we require moving labor companies listed in our marketplace to comply with any requirements of their municipalities for running a normal business, we do not believe a special license needs to exist for lifting things onto a truck.

Roping in the Burro Down South

Meanwhile down in Texas state regulators are busy putting the shackles on Burro, an Austin-based company linking locals with trucks and people or stores who need delivery or hauling services. The Texas DMV has asked Burro to “stop operating until its drivers prove they are complying with state laws.”

A letter from the DMV’s William Harbeson states that “anyone moving household goods in a pick-up truck or other type or size of vehicle for hire is required to register with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and show proof of insurance in the amounts required by law.”

“That includes people moving a piece of furniture bought at a garage sale for pay,” Harbeson concludes, though it remains unclear whether this includes paying a buddy in pizza and beer.

Burro had been advertising the advantage of not needing a business license to operate within the Burro system. But now the Lone Star State is lowering the boom, telling Burro their service providers are required to obtain exactly that.

Jason Ervin, co-founder of Burro, is quoted as saying attempts to regulate this sort of business was ridiculous, that this sort of thing happens all the time. Of course most of the time – and all the time until recently – people haven’t been using a for-profit app service.

Ervin is also asking why his company “is being singled out now when websites such as Craigslist had offered moving services in a similar way for years.” Yet Craigslist has been the target of regulators for this very issue in the past:

Aggravated and irritated by the steady stream of customer complaints related to movers hired through Craigslist, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) demanded that movers who advertise on Craigslist must abide by the state’s advertising laws. From the CPUC website:

A mover engaged in intrastate transportation within California must have a permit from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and evidence of public liability and cargo insurance on file with the CPUC. A mover with a CPUC permit will have a Cal-T Number, and is required to include this number in all advertising.

The big sticking point, however, was that the CPUC threatened to shut down Craigslist’s ability to operate in California if Craigslist did not enforce these advertising statutes. It seems that the CPUC, even with their people in the Consumer Protection and Safety Division (CPSD) checking Craigslist for non-compliant moving company ads, is telling Craigslist that they need to play an active role in the enforcement of California’s laws. As far as we can tell, the Texas DMV is placing no such burden on Jason Ervin and Burro. But the bottom line is the same: blanket statutory compliance for every class and kind of mover.

Similar shared-economy businesses in Austin have had related issues, notably Uber and Lyft. Their opponents contend these companies should have to pay the same regulatory fees the more traditional organizations have to pay for offering the same service. And that’s a valid point.

So Where Does HireAHelper Stand?

Firmly in between the entrenched big guys and the independents running around wreaking havoc while promoting their cut-throat rates. State and federal authorities have taken steps to try and protect consumers from unscrupulous providers in our industry. (Check out their most recent efforts in this month’s current events post, ‘The Feds Step Up Their Game’.) Unfortunately most people don’t know these resources, or the agencies themselves, even exist.

That’s one more reason why services like HireAHelper are good for this industry. More than simply bring consumers and movers together, we act as advocates for both parties, creating a more efficient and more professional marketplace.

We try to make sure all our regulatory and legal bases are covered while we offer the value and savings the big guys can’t. And of course, we only work with movers who can provide the quality and trust that have made HireAHelper a name people can rely on.

And that, ladies and gents, is how we roll.


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