Your Uber Is Not Here: Drivers Strike, Rally Nationwide Ahead Of IPO

Jeannie Matthews
May 9, 2019

Uber and Lyft drivers around the world are striking on Wednesday to improve wages and working conditions just two days ahead of Uber's monster IPO that could generate $80 million to $90 million.

Uber has reported that its drivers have earned more than $78.2 billion on the platform since 2015, and $1.2 billion in tips. She expects about 100 drivers to gather for a demonstration in the Loop at 3 p.m. Wednesday, then move toward City Hall to stage a protest.

"Stand with these workers on strike today, across the United Kingdom and the world", said Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party.

In addition to powering off their apps, drivers will hold rallies held in strategic places, such as outside local Uber offices. On average, Lyft drivers earn over $20 per hour. While the boycott in NY will last only through the morning rush hour, drivers' groups in Boston and Los Angeles are encouraging members to turn off their apps for the full day. Workers earning the median wage in L.A. would need to work 102 hours in a month to earn the city's median rent, more than in other high-cost cities like San Francisco (84 hours) and NY (89 hours). Uber warned the problems could require it to pay a licensing fee to Waymo or delay its efforts to introduce self-driving cars in its service.

And in New York City, there is a two-hour strike planned for the morning commute.

It was unclear how many drivers would take part in the work stoppage amid strike calls in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston and elsewhere.

Uber now operates in 40 Indian cities and the country accounts for an estimated 11 percent of its global rides. "Their drivers should not be getting pay cuts-they deserve a living wage and decent benefits".

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The ride-sharing company Lyft surprised investors last night with a quarterly revenue rise of 95 per cent to $776 million in its first report since becoming a public company in March, but concerns remained about whether it would ever make a profit.

Actions are also planned in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other major cities. Participating drivers say they intend to send a message to Uber and its rivals: They want livable incomes, job security and regulated fares, among other demands. In some markets, drivers are asking passengers to support their cause by boycotting the services in cases where drivers are working.

Financial experts anticipate Uber will raise $9 billion when it goes public on Friday.

Uber did not respond to Al Jazeera's request for comment but, in a statement to United States media, a representative for the company said: "Whether it's more consistent earnings, stronger insurance protections or fully-funded four-year degrees for drivers or their families, we'll continue working to improve the experience for and with drivers". In this way, and with little public outcry, the company has managed to totally circumnavigate all of the rights that the labour movement has fought hard for decades to secure.

Demands from the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which largely echoed other groups, included boosting job stability by ending "unfair deactivations", raising driver pay and increasing regulation of fares while guaranteeing drivers a larger cut.

The study looked at 564 standard Uber and Lyft trips completed by dozens of Seattle drivers between July and October 2018. But that number is certainly in dispute: According to an analysis from the think tank Economic Policy Institute, the actual wage drivers take home is much less.

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