Before you guys discount this researcher as being "for uber", read the included Isaac_UberPaper_PDF.pdf (2 responses above). It cuts into how uber is really sticking it to the "partner driver" and uber is working in a legal void which hinders the driver.
Read pages 11-13.
"A. The Cost of Gas & Maintenance: As independent contractors, Uber drivers must cover all of their own expenses, including gas and maintenance. Naturally, working full-time as a driver can Isaac 12 rapidly put wear-and-tear on a vehicle and amount to significant costs in maintenance and depreciation. The IRS estimates that the cost of gas and repairs for the average vehicle amounts to 56¢ per mile. However, with variations between cars and gas prices, there is no one-way to calculate what this cost amounts to for drivers, and Uber drivers often have different methods of calculation. Jesus Garay, a full-time UberX driver in New York City, broke down his profit margin calculations to Slate journalist Alison Griswold in her recent article on Uber driver salaries. According to Garay, he made $1,163.30 in fares for 40 hours of work in one week, but was ultimately left with about $480 after factoring in Uber's 20% commission fee and the cost of gas, car cleanings, insurance, maintenance, and parking costs, which totals to about $350. In a standard employment arrangement, these are costs that the employer would cover, not the employee. For example, employed taxi drivers (some taxi companies also classify their drivers as independent contractors) do not have to pay for gas or maintenance, as the taxi company covers this cost. B. Instability & Income Uncertainty: Although Uber executives call drivers their "partners" and often liken them to "micro-entrepreneurs," Uber drivers have no real control over pricing, which the company can lower at any moment. Therefore, a defining characteristic of working for Uber is facing vulnerabilities in terms of maintaining a stable income. While union taxi drivers have the power to negotiate fares and rates (Cervero, 1985), as independent contractors, Uber drivers are vulnerable to steep price reductions in fares at the hands of Uber executives, who, knowingly or not, are cutting into their drivers' incomes. In fact, since faced with new competition, Uber has involved itself in a "race to the bottom," dramatically cutting its rates every few months. For example, In May 2013 in Los Angeles, Uber charged UberX customers a far of $2.75 per mile, plus an additional 60¢ per minute under eleven mph, allowing full-time drivers to make between Isaac 13 $15 and $20 per hour (Asher-Schapiro, 2014). Since then, Uber has cut fares nearly in half: customers are now charged $1.10 per mile, plus an additional 21¢ per minute-a fare that often times does not allow drivers to make even minimum wage. One of the more recent Uber scandals that ignited protests from drivers across the country arose when UberBLACK drivers were forced by the company to accept uberX fares, which are significantly lower. But again, because these drivers are independent contractors, the company is technically operating within the law and can adjust its fares without discretion for its workers. Moreover, Uber drivers face vulnerabilities insofar as their accounts can be "deactivated" upon receiving a rating below 4.7 from customers, justifiably or otherwise. The thought of suddenly being shut out of the application troubles many drivers who have personally invested their time and resources into the job. As independent contractors, Uber drivers are not protected by anti-discrimination laws and could effectively be "fired" for reasons related to race, gender, ethnicity, or religion. C. Liabilities & The Law: By and far, the biggest risk workers assume when driving for Uber is accident liability."