Before the company’s initial public offering on Friday, Uber drivers in at least 10 U.S. cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco, will halt business and strike for up to 24 hours today.
The workers will demand, in part, better wages, basic benefits, and an end to exploitative pay policies from Uber and Lyft, ride-hailing mammoths valued at billions of dollars each.
The San Francisco protest will involve more than 200 drivers from both companies, who will gather outside of Uber’s headquarters at noon. Drivers will turn off their apps for 12 hours.
Drivers in SF are demanding Uber and Lyft pay drivers a livable hourly rate (after expenses); clear policies on wages, tips, fare breakdowns, and deactivations; benefits such as disability, workers comp, retirement, health care, death benefits, and paid time off; and a recognized independent worker organization.
Striking workers in Los Angeles, set to protest at Los Angeles International Airport, will also demand a $28 an hour wage.
The company, whose IPO is estimated to run upward of $90 billion, has approximately 3 million drivers in 65 countries. However, Uber willfully admitted that the company lowered fares and bonuses for drivers in an effort to remain profitable.
Uber drivers are visiting Uber HQ to relay three concerns ahead of the corporation's multi-billion dollar IPO. You can read their letter in full here pic.twitter.com/g8DFmKX5DY— Gig Workers Rising (@GigWorkersRise) April 24, 2019
“[A]s we aim to reduce driver incentives to improve our financial performance, we expect driver dissatisfaction will generally increase,” noted the company’s recent S-1 filing.
“Drivers are workers and we deserve a fair share of the millions that we make for Uber and Lyft each year,” said Uber driver Mostafa Maklad in a written statement. “We are all driving to survive, but we work for a company that makes us fend for ourselves when times are tough. Uber and Lyft can choose to change; a living wage, healthcare, paid time off and worker protections aren’t too much to ask from companies potentially worth more than $100 billion.”
Uber and Lyft also own and manage other enterprises when it comes to transportation, including electric scooters, bike shares, and partnerships to provide other assorted transit-related solutions.
In addition to worker frustration, the IPO filing will add a horde of fresh multimillionaires to San Francisco, newly minted denizens who will be better able to snap up what little housing stock remains in the city. (According to the California Association of Realtors, the median price of a home in SF in January 2019 was $1.33 million.)
In March, District Four Supervisor Gordon Mar warned colleagues about the upcoming IPOs, “We’ve seen the aftermath when major startups go public, transforming hypothetical money into real money.”
Mar went on to predict dire consequences for the city after “minting millionaires and billionaires overnight,” calling San Francisco’s 2019 IPO bacchanalia “the benefit of the few and harm to the many.”
Update: Here are some scenes outside of Uber’s Market Street headquarters during this afternoon’s protest.
#UberLyftStrike takes Market street at Iber headquarters pic.twitter.com/YwFCglHNTL— Stephanie Lister (@Steph_Lister_7) May 8, 2019
Workers shutdown Market Street in #SanFrancisco as part of #UberLyftStrike #UberShutDown pic.twitter.com/VgFxQep8KX— AROC (@AROCBayArea) May 8, 2019
Crowd swells outside Uber HQ.— scott budman (@scottbudman) May 8, 2019
“Drivers United will never be defeated.”#UberLyftStrike pic.twitter.com/CkHQTaPR2y
Joan Peters is not an Uber driver but says she’s here in solidarity with workers. “These people are employees, I’m tired of this contractor garbage.” #UberLyftStrike pic.twitter.com/cKRCS38Y19— Kari Paul (@kari_paul) May 8, 2019
Festive protest atmosphere in the middle of Market St.; one bus got through; another is going through now but cars gave up #UberLyftStrike pic.twitter.com/6CgUcj1ZlR— Carolyn Said (@CSaid) May 8, 2019
At Uber HQ for #UberShutDown #UberLyftStrike rally pic.twitter.com/BmCQANWFNY— Sarah Jaffe (@sarahljaffe) May 8, 2019
San Francisco #UberLyftStrike has flooded out on to Market Street now. pic.twitter.com/x7oYIpYY3z— Sarah Belle Lin (@SarahBelleLin) May 8, 2019
San Francisco #UberLyftStrike has flooded out on to Market Street now. pic.twitter.com/hfnpMw9YpW— Sarah Belle Lin (@SarahBelleLin) May 8, 2019
#UberLyftStrike by @GigWorkersRise has taken over Market Street in front of @Uber HQ in San Francisco. Get the backstory of how it came together @FastCompany https://t.co/4TAYZUPAyI pic.twitter.com/eYovGjyDe5— Sean Captain (@seancaptain) May 8, 2019