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Alberta ride share company TappCar unionizes

Edmonton ride-sharing company TappCar officially launched on March 14, 2016. File / Global News

Alberta-based TappCar said Wednesday it has become the first unionized ride-sharing company in North America.

A news conference will be held Wednesday morning at Edmonton’s City Hall, where the company will talk about the collective bargaining agreement with Teamsters Local 987.

It is the same union that represents drivers for Yellow Cab, Barrel Taxi, Checker and Prestige Cabs: all of which are owned by parent company Greater Edmonton Taxi Service Inc.

TappCar launched in February, positioning itself as a competitor to Uber. Both services allow customers to order a ride via a mobile phone app.

READ MORE: Edmonton ride-sharing upstart revved up to challenge Uber for street supremacy

The bumpy road to ride-sharing in Alberta

Edmonton made history earlier this year when it became the first Canadian city to legislate ride sharing, in spite of fierce opposition from traditional taxi drivers. Before that, Uber had been operating illegally on city streets.

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Watch Below: (Sept. 22, 2015) Raw video of taxi drivers breaking out in angry protest at Edmonton city council.

When city council passed the new vehicle-for-hire bylaw at the end of January, one of the requirements was that drivers have adequate commercial insurance approved by the province.

READ MORE: Edmonton becomes first city in Canada to legislate ride sharing 

At the end of February, Alberta Government passed legislation requiring drivers to have a Class 4 licence, a criminal record check, and commercial insurance in case of a collision. However, the province said it wouldn’t have the insurance regulations in place until July 1.

Shortly after the province’s announcement, Uber temporarily suspended its operations in Edmonton.

The province unveiled its insurance policy in late June, and Uber returned to Edmonton in time for Canada Day.

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Intact Insurance teamed up with Uber to provide the right kind of coverage. Karim Hirji, an Intact Financial spokesman, said every driver operating on the Uber platform in Alberta will automatically be covered under the new policy provided by subsidiary Intact Insurance Co.

The insurance will kick in the instant a ride is accepted on Uber’s mobile app and last until a passenger has left the vehicle, he said.

READ MORE: Taxi to TappCar: how Calgary’s first legal rideshare company stacks up

TappCar, which operates in Calgary and Edmonton, said it was reviewing the insurance policy, but had no problems complying as long as the rules apply to all ride-hailing companies.

Teamsters Local 987 represents more than 5,000 workers from over 13 industries across Alberta, including transportation, food processing, manufacturing, and heath care.

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