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Foodsters United is looking to unionize Foodora couriers in Toronto. Thomas McKechnie is one of the members helping to organize the union.

Foodsters United/Handout

A hearing related to a union drive at food delivery company Foodora is under way in Toronto and is expected to have significant implications for workers and companies in the gig economy.

The Ontario Labour Relations Board is set to hear a number of issues raised by both couriers looking to unionize as well as the company – which opposes the push – including whether couriers are independent contractors or employees, and which couriers should be eligible to vote in a union drive.

The board hearing comes after a union certification vote at Foodora in August was challenged, and the results sealed until the issues at the board are resolved.

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Couriers voted on whether to join the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, which has also filed an unfair labour practice complaint with the board over claims that Foodora Canada spread misinformation during the union drive.

The treatment of workers in the new gig economy has become a hot button issue globally as major players such as Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc. and a range of delivery companies challenge assertions that the people doing the driving and delivering are employees.

A court in Britain found last year that Uber drivers should be classified as workers rather than self-employed contractors, while California legislators are trying to pass a new law to limit when some companies can label workers as independent contractors.

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