“Drivers are fed up with the fact that executives are bringing home millions of dollars while many drivers cannot afford healthcare, cannot afford to feed their families, even when they’re driving full time,” Jeffrey Dugas, driver and organizer, said.
Drivers from ride sharing apps Uber and Lyft took to the streets of major cities in the United States (U.S.), United Kingdom (U.K.), Australia, among other countries on Wednesday to ask for better conditions including higher pay, protections, transparency and support from the billionaire companies.
“The main demand here is Uber and Lyft pay drivers a living wage,” Jeffrey Dugas, an organizer with Driver United in Washington DC told The Guardian, adding that “drivers are fed up with the fact that executives are bringing home millions of dollars while many drivers cannot afford healthcare, cannot afford to feed their families, even when they’re driving full time.”
The Rideshare Drivers United group spearheaded the strike in Los Angeles, since then other groups in San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Connecticut, Philadelphia, New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. have joined. Drivers in London, Melbourne and Glasgow were also reported turining off their apps and joining the strike.
“We have a lot of drivers who are fed up with the continuous cuts of rates and safety concerns on the driver side of things that aren’t being addressed properly or fairly,” Austin Gates, an organizer with Rideshare Drivers United-Georgia said.
Uber cannot be allowed to get away with huge payouts for their CEOs while refusing to pay drivers a decent wage and respect their rights at work. Stand with these workers on strike today, across the UK and the world, asking you not to use Uber between 7am and 4pm. #UberShutDown— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) May 8, 2019
A Gridwise study — an app used by ride-share drivers to be more efficient — found that the average hourly driver pay is currently at US$18.65, which means drivers are bringing home an average US$9 per hour after working for 12 to 16 hours a day, according to Washington-based think tank, Economic Policy Institute.
That is why they are demanding a guaranteed US$28 per hour minimum rate so that after expenses like gas, insurance payments, maintenance, they can bring about US$17 per hour as implimented in New York City. Uber has stated that it can't pay its drivers more money yet paid its top five executives US$143 million in total compensation last year alone.
Because drivers in these platforms are classified as independent contractors, so they technically are not workers for the company, meaning they don’t receive benefits like healthcare, sick pay or other protections.
In 2017 Lyft’s CEO made over $41 million and Uber’s made $45 million last year.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 8, 2019
Uber executives are expected to become instant millionaires from the company’s IPO this week.
The median worker at Uber and Lyft makes about $10/hour.
This is a situation we can no longer accept.
For this and other reasons, thousands of drivers are shutting-off their apps for a couple of hours and up to 24-hours to show the companies their “worth,” asking users not to use the apps in order to show solidarity with the worker’s struggle. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, who is also a Democratic presidential candidate, posted his solidarity with app drivers and supported the strike on Twitter.
The protests come one day before Uber debuts its initial public offering (IPO) on the U.S. stock exchange, the company is expected to start trading by Friday with a US$90 billion valuation. Lyft, which solely operates in the U.S. went public last month at a US$24 billion valuation.