Published: Thu, May 09, 2019
Money | By Ethel Goodwin

Why organizing Uber and Lyft drivers is a big challenge

Why organizing Uber and Lyft drivers is a big challenge

Organised by driver communities and unions, the strikes are being carried out in major cities including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as cities and towns in the United Kingdom and Australia.

The embattled drivers were seen picketing at airports, on bridges and even outside of Uber's headquarters in New York City, claiming they are being exploited and earning pennies on the dollar as massive companies rake in billions of dollars on Wall Street.

But there appears to be no easy way to satisfy both drivers' calls for higher wages, and investors' demands that Uber eventually make money.

"Lyft drivers' hourly earnings have increased over the last two years, and they have earned more than $10B on the Lyft platform".

"We're committed to continuously improving our customer experience, and our partnership with Lyft will also give our teams the opportunity to collect valuable feedback", Waymo CEO John Krafcik wrote in a blog post.

Uber has three million drivers globally, and it is not clear if the work actions can significantly slow service, although organizers have received widespread publicity.

"We measured the cost of living as, how many hours would you have to work to pay the median rent, at the median wage", Farrell said.

The strikes are expected to happen across major USA cities, as well as parts of the United Kingdom, Australia and South America. But unlike a traditional taxi meter system, which pays drivers a set portion of the passenger fare, drivers are instead paid according to time and mileage regardless of the ride's price, leading to consternation about the gulf between the companies' cut and theirs.

The movement is decentralized, with drivers' groups in different cities organizing strikes and protests. In its IPO filing, Uber said it had paid $837 million in "excess driver incentives" previous year.

Correction: An earlier version incorrectly stated the Uber IPO would raise $90 billion in new capital for the company.

"Uber and Lyft are unlikely to increase drivers' minimum wage to $28 simply because of the May 8 strike", Beebe 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", it added.

Uber also stated in its filing that it "cannot assure our pricing model or strategies will be successful in attracting consumers and drivers". Executives, founders, investors, and corporate employees stand to make billions but dozens of drivers have told Gizmodo that their pay is falling.

Many drivers work part time for the services and often divide their time between platforms, delivering food and goods as well as giving rides.

The demonstrations come after a slew of submissions to the Victoria On-demand Workforce inquiry, which was founded to ensure ridesharing companies follow the workplace regulations enforced in other industries.

New York University business professor Arun Sundararajan, meanwhile, argues that Uber actually has a competitive advantage on this front, at least compared to its rivals.

"We need as many people on board with this as possible", said Laurel Hirschmann, a driver based in the Miracle Mile area.

"The drivers are the ones who are running the business", said Ali, who's been driving for Uber for four years and says it's his primary source of income.

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