In an outpouring of long-simmering tensions between rideshare companies and drivers whose wages have been on the decline, hundreds affiliated or acting in solidarity with grassroots group Drivers United turned out on Monday to picket an Uber Greenlight hub in Redondo Beach, California.
Inciting today’s action was a 25-percent decrease in per-mile rates rolled out to Los Angeles-area drivers in recent weeks. “We have seen them take 54 percent of our pay while they are worth billions, but never before have they been so callous, so brazen” as the recent mileage rate cut, one passionate worker said before the crowd of picketers today—as well as to strikers watching on the livestream from elsewhere. “The fact that these vultures have driven people to homelessness in their pursuit of greed is a blight upon our country.”
As we previously reported, Drivers United aren’t merely hoping to restore the per-mile rate that previously was in place. Workers are hoping to win guaranteed minimum pay similar to what New York recently voted to enact, as well as a 10-percent commission cap for rideshare companies, and an end to driver deactivations without just cause.
Supporting the strike effort were the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, Amalgamated Transit Union, the National Union of Healthcare Workers, and 2020 presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders.
“Uber and Lyft continue to destroy drivers’ lives, leaving them in poverty and debt, as the companies saturate streets, cut rates and syphon revenue from passenger fares into their own pockets,” NYTWA wrote in a statement to press.
Similarly, ATU stated that “Uber and Lyft’s pattern of exploiting workers—and denying them basic rights such as a livable wage, affordable health insurance, overtime pay, retirement plans, workers’ compensation coverage, unemployment insurance and the right to join a union to collectively bargain on their own behalf—is deplorable. It is disgusting that Uber would further slash driver pay from already unlivable levels, but, unfortunately, it is no longer surprising.”
Uber declined to provide a comment.
Drivers United’s picket and 25-hour protest are timed around Lyft’s recent initial public offering and Uber’s upcoming public offering. (It’s no surprise, then, that “homeless drivers with nowhere to go / say hell no to the IPO” was among the first chants at today’s picket.) Gig Workers Rising, a similar coalition, organized in San Fransisco today to directly disrupt Lyft’s IPO roadshow.
Nicole Moore, an activist with Drivers United, told the crowd California Governor Gavin Newsom had finally agreed to meet with the organization to hear their concerns. (We’ve reached out to Gov. Newsom’s office and will update if we hear back.)
The protesters intend to continue picketing outside the Greenlight Hub until 3pm local time. They then intend to march to an LAX parking lot where they hope to convince incoming fliers to avoid ridersharing apps until the strike ends.