• Follow us


On Eve of Uber's IPO, Ride-Hail Drivers Stage Protests

A ride-hail driver strike in at least 15 global cities didn’t seem to put a dent in service. But now, six weeks after Lyft went public and two days ahead of Uber’s projected $90 billion public offering, everyone’s paying attention.

If you measure a strike or a boycott by how badly it disrupts the day-to-day life of its targets, Wednesday’s action by drivers for the Uber and Lyft ride-hailing apps doesn’t appear to have made much of a mark. In New York and San Francisco, ride-hail vehicles appeared plentiful, and prices—whether by algorithmic magic, or because supply actually balanced out demand—were level with the day before.

But the strikes earned drivers and their allies a fair bit of notice—notably, among the political movers and shakers who power regulations, and who might soon have more of it. By midafternoon Wednesday, three Democratic presidential hopefuls had issued statements supporting the action, with Senator Bernie Sanders, a frontrunner, creating a slick video for social media. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said refusing to take an Uber or Lyft on Wednesday was “Your Direct Action for today.” The hashtags #UberLyftStrike and #UberStrike trended on Twitter.

Indeed, earned visibility seemed a major theme, as what looked to be a fraction of the millions of drivers who work on the tech companies’ platforms turned off their apps for periods of two to 24 hours on Wednesday. Cameras swarmed small-ish demonstrations in Melbourne, Australia; Birmingham, London, Glasgow, and Nottingham in the UK; and Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, DC, and in front of Uber’s headquarters in San Francisco in the US.

Demands varied by locale; the messages were mostly generalizable: Drivers want an hourly minimum pay. (Last May, the Economic Policy Institute estimated that Uber drivers make the equivalent of $9.21 an hour after expenses, or below the minimum wage in 13 of the 20 major markets where it operates in the US.) They want a cap on the ride-hail apps’ commissions, which today sits around 25 percent, depending on the market. They want sick pay, and some want to be recognized as employees rather than independent contractors. They want transparency, after many have criticized the companies for altering payment algorithms and deactivating drivers with little recourse. And they want recognition, a seat at some sort of bargaining table.

Organizers say that this month, the divide between drivers and those on the other end of the mobile apps feels starker than ever. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi made more than $45 million in salary and stock last year, and will likely gain a multimillion-dollar payday when Uber hits the public market. Lyft CEO Logan Green received over $41 million in 2017, and held a $675 million stake in his company when it went public. Both ride-hail companies offered one-time bonuses to drivers who had reached a certain number of trips, and have reserved a percentage of shares for direct sale to “qualifying” drivers, but some argue it’s not enough. “Where’s our stock?” drivers chanted during a Wednesday protest in Long Island City, Queens.

But organizing drivers for ride-hail applications presents distinctly 21st-century challenges. Only Lyft and Uber know exactly who drive for their platforms, which means the whispers that build union organizations have to be transmitted on the internet, via driver forums, and only to those who seek them out. It also means that the social pressure a worker might feel to not cross the picket line all but disappears. In San Francisco, some drivers circled Uber’s headquarters to honk their support for the 100 or so demonstrators gathered there, their apps logged off. Others shot by, passengers in their back seats.

So maybe it’s no wonder the strike didn’t bring the billion-dollar companies to their knees. Maybe that wasn’t the point. Solidarity was another theme, the word peppered on posters in Queens, where red-shirt-wearing members of the Independent Drivers Guild, an affiliate of the Machinists Union that represents tens of thousands of for-hire drivers in the city, gathered to protest. (Solidarity, quite literally: IDG receives some funding from Uber, and some of its drivers “stood in solidarity” with the strike rather than participated.)

In San Francisco, drivers seemed outnumbered by non-driver supporters. Members of the Democratic Socialists of America passed out leaflets. Organizers for Gig Workers Rising coordinated with police officers as demonstrators shut down a block of busy Market Street. Members of the Tech Workers Coalition carried a sizable “All Workers in Tech: We’re stronger ... TOGETHER” banner. People passed out copies of The Militant, a socialist newsweekly. The Brass Liberation Orchestra, a progressive demonstration mainstay in the Bay Area, banged on drums and took to tubas. (One of its members said she drives for a ride-hail app.)

In statements, the two ride-hail companies said they valued drivers. “Drivers are at the heart of our service─we can’t succeed without them─and thousands of people come into work at Uber every day focused on how to make their experience better, on and off the road,” an Uber spokesperson said. “We know that access to flexible, extra income makes a big difference for millions of people, and we’re constantly working to improve how we can best serve our driver community,” said a Lyft spokesperson.

Back in front of Uber’s headquarters on San Francisco's Market Street, the crowd finally parted to let through a city bus. The driver stuck out his hand as he crawled by, a thumb up.

Louise Matsakis contributed reporting.

Updated 5-9-19, 12:35 pm EST: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect name for Gig Workers Rising.

More Great WIRED StoriesPortland is again blazing trails for open internet accessShould I spend $1,000 on a smartphone?Combatting drug deaths with opioid vending machinesExquisite underwater photos to make you love the ocean15 months of fresh hell inside Facebook🎧 Things not sounding right? Check out our favorite wireless headphones, soundbars, and bluetooth speakers📩 Want more? Sign up for our daily newsletter and never miss our latest and greatest storiesRead More

Leave A Comment

More News


The USPS Tests Out Self-Driving Trucks for Hauling 2019-05-21 06:00:00In a two-week test, startup TuSimple will transport mail for the US Postal Service between Phoenix and Dallas.

GM's Big Upgrade, ‘Game of Thrones’' Unsatisfying End, 2019-05-20 19:50:47Catch up on the most important news from today in two minutes or less.

GM Gives All Its Vehicles a New Soul 2019-05-20 10:30:00GM's new "electronic platform" offers five times the bandwidth and compute power of its predecessor, to deliver better maps and new accessories.

Want to Bike Cross-Country? Some Old Rails Could 2019-05-19 07:00:00The Rails to Trails Conservancy is trying to assemble a 3,700-mile route that crosses 12 states. It needs help in Wyoming.

Another Fatal Tesla Autopilot Crash and More Car 2019-05-19 07:00:00The NTSB said a Tesla Model 3 had its Autopilot engaged when it collided with a truck in Florida in March, killing the driver.

Building a Bus Map When There Are No 2019-05-18 07:00:00Citizen groups in Beirut, Nairobi, Cairo and other cities are crowdsourcing maps of informal bus networks to encourage transit use.

A Fatal Tesla Autopilot Crash, Rising Methane Levels, 2019-05-16 18:33:42Catch up on the most important news today in two minutes or less.

Tesla’s Latest Autopilot Death Looks Just Like a 2019-05-16 17:46:31A Florida man was killed March 1 when his Tesla collided with a tractor trailer that was crossing its path. A government report says the Autopilot fea

Lilium's 36-Motor Flying Taxi Takes Off for the 2019-05-16 03:01:00The latest aircraft vying for a piece of the not-quite-realized aeromobility space takes a big step toward becoming a reality.

VW Will Make Its Own Batteries to Power 2019-05-15 17:53:18The German automaker plans 70 electric models by 2028. So it's building a gigafactory to ensure it has enough batteries.

Daimler Plans to Make Its Cars Carbon Neutral 2019-05-14 08:00:00The carmaker's new climate plan is bold—for a company. But it falls short of recommended emissions cuts and shows the limits of corporate self-

Why Uber Is Fighting Cities Over Data About 2019-05-13 07:00:00Los Angeles and other cities want detailed data on the shared scooters on their streets. Uber, Lyft and other companies fear a Trojan horse that could

Automotive News Breaking

Senators urge VW to end delay of UAW 2019-05-21 11:40:59Earlier this month, the largest German automaker won its bid to put off a union election for 1,700 workers at the Chattanooga, Tenn., plant until its

Tesla's bullish analysts turn bearish 2019-05-21 10:50:33A selloff of Tesla shares has been sparked by slowing deliveries and a chaotic shift in retailing strategy early this year has accelerated this month,

Veoneer will sell $500 million of bonds, equity 2019-05-21 09:44:39Swedish supplier Veoneer plans to shore up its working capital by $500 million through the sale of bonds and shares, as it waits for a strong order bo

VW outlines launch plans for first member of 2019-05-21 06:00:10Volkswagen brand is getting ready to launch the first of a new lineup of electric vehicles, the ID3 hatchback. Automotive News Europe spoke with the b

Postal service to test automated delivery between 2 2019-05-21 06:00:00The U.S. Postal Service is partnering with autonomous truck company TuSimple on a two-week pilot project that will automate trips between distribution

A degree in mobility? It will soon be 2019-05-21 00:01:00The Michigan Mobility Institute, formed this year to enhance the state's workforce, is partnering with Wayne State University in Detroit to develop a

GM's Maven, citing strategy shift, pulls out of 2019-05-20 16:26:55Maven, the mobility brand operated by GM, said its car-sharing service will remain in operation in Detroit and Los Angeles while it discontinues opera

Daimler to cut administration costs by 20%, report 2019-05-20 15:22:07Incoming boss Ola Kaellenius is working on a cost-cutting program, dubbed "Move," to reach profit margin targets threatened by trade talks and produ

GM moves closer to securing Missouri tax break 2019-05-20 14:13:18State senators passed incentives that would give GM $50 million in tax credits over 10 years in return for a $750 million investment to expand a light

Tesla shares, bonds take a hit as investors 2019-05-20 14:01:32Investors worry about the automaker's cash burn, sales outlook and problems with an Autopilot system that CEO Elon Musk has held out as key to the el

After Ghosn scandal, Nissan CEO under pressure as 2019-05-12 03:33:52Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa faces internal strife over whether he is the right executive to fix the automaker, which is on track to announce on Tuesday

Audi's ‘streak' shifts to a run of bad 2019-05-12 00:00:01A year ago, Audi's products were in demand and available and its experienced leadership team was scaring the hell out of its larger luxury competitor

Motor Trend

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe First Drive: Porsche’s Sportiest 2019-05-20 18:01:15Better late than never. Years after its German rivals launched cut-down versions of their mainstream SUVs, Porsche has finally got around to building

15 Cars That Won’t Disappoint You Like the 2019-05-20 17:38:02Like a lot of other people, we were pretty disappointed with the Game of Thrones finale. Half the things that happened made no sense, many of the

The Cheapest New SUVs You Can Buy in 2019-05-20 16:45:36It’s no secret that SUVs have gotten expensive, especially if you want the latest features and technology. A fully loaded Honda CR-V, for exampl

15 of the Best SUVs for Your Summer 2019-05-20 14:00:03Summer is here, which means it’s time to hit the road and get away from it all. An SUV is a good choice for road trips because they’re sup

Why the 2020 Lexus RC F Track Edition 2019-05-20 07:00:22When it first debuted, the Lexus RC was criticized for weighing two tons even in its more pedestrian versions. Thanks to a platform that utilizes part

2019 Toyota 86 TRD First Drive: Fair ’n‘ 2019-05-20 04:00:52Toyota Racing Development has prepared a special TRD edition of the 2019 Toyota 86. Don’t get excited, though: The upgrades are visual and chass

The 15 Smallest SUVs Currently on Sale 2019-05-20 04:00:41This segment didn’t really exist 10 years ago. As sedans and hatchbacks fall victim to the mighty force that is crossover fever, manufacturers c

2019 Acura RDX: 7 Design Details to Notice 2019-05-20 04:00:23Did your car’s design feel less special after months behind the wheel? Well, I can’t say the same for our 2019 Acura RDX, a MotorTrend lon

This 1995 Toyota Supra Makes 1,800 HP, Runs 2019-05-20 04:00:11Geovannie Castillo's 1995 Toyota Supra is making 1,800hp with stock heads and block, running 60 pinds of boost and spraying methanol! The post This 1

These are the Best Car Deals This Memorial 2019-05-20 04:00:05Memorial Day is one of the biggest car-shopping weekends of the year. Folks will have their tax-refund checks deposited, the weather is getting nice,

2018 Volkswagen Atlas SE Mileage and Range – 2019-05-11 04:00:32Between my daily 45-minute commute and pulling support and transportation duties on out-of-town photo and video shoots, we have been putting some mile

Dozens of Vintage Chevrolets Burn With HBO Film 2019-05-10 17:37:02A massive fire that broke out on the set of an HBO miniseries in Ellenville, New York, early Thursday morning destroyed a used-car dealership and seve

Automotive news - from

Indonesia market decline steepens in April 2019-05-21 09:44:00The Indonesian new vehicle market deteriorated further in April 2019 as sales plunged by over 17.8% to 84,029 units from 102,258 units a year earlier,

British Steel on brink of collapse - reports 2019-05-21 08:39:00Britain's second-largest steel producer is on the brink of collapse, UK news reports said on Tuesday (21 May).

Millbrook expands ADAS and connected/autonomous test facilities 2019-05-21 07:59:00Millbrook, the Bedfordshire vehicle testing facility originally built in the late 1960s as the Vauxhalll Proving Ground, announced it now offers new f

Toyota may not benefit from hybrid patent release 2019-05-21 07:47:00Moody's Japan reckons the release by Toyota Motor of its hybrid vehicle technology patents could increase demand for full hybrids but the r

Mahle expands thermal management portfolio 2019-05-21 07:45:00Following the acquisition of the entire shareholding in Behr Hella Service (BHS) by Mahle Aftermarket, all existing activities of BHS will be transfer

Jaguar Land Rover names new CFO 2019-05-21 07:44:00Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) announced that Ken Gregor, chief financial officer (CFO), has decided to step down on 1 June 2019 after 22 years with the busi

Honda mulls network of used EV batteries 2019-05-21 07:42:00Honda is carrying out research with Ohio-based, American Electric Power (AEP) to develop a network of used EV batteries, which could be inte

Delphi develops 500+ bar GDi system which reduces 2019-05-21 07:40:00In a paper presented at the 2019 Vienna Motor Symposium, Delphi Technologies has revealed a new 500+ bar GDi system that it claims can reduce particul

Vulog and Renault team on car sharing 2019-05-21 07:40:00Vulog and Renault are collaborating to manufacture car-sharing vehicles, starting immediately.

Ford to duck China tariffs and costs with 2019-05-21 06:58:00Ford plans to produce new Lincoln models in China to save on costs and avoid local tariffs.

Michelin to acquire Masternaut 2019-05-21 06:57:00Michelin has signed an agreement to acquire the entire share capital of Masternaut, one of Europe's largest telematics providers.

Malaysia sales up again in April 2019-05-21 05:19:00Malaysia's new vehicle market continued to expand in April 2019, by 6.2% to 49,964 units from 47,047 units in the same month of last year, according

Disclaimer and Notice:WorldProNews.com is not responsible of these news or any information published on this website.